FERC - Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

03/28/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/28/2024 09:40

FERC Staff Issues Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Shawmut Hydroelectric Project, Lockwood Hydroelectric Project, Hydro-Kennebec Hydroelectric Project, Weston[...]

Docket Nos. P-2322-069, P-2322-071, P-2325-100, P-2574-092, and P-2611-091

Commission staff prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate theenvironmental effects of amending the current license and relicensing the 8.65-megawatt (MW) Shawmut Hydroelectric Project No. 2322 (Shawmut Project); and amending the licenses for the 15.98-MW Weston Hydroelectric Project No. 2325 (Weston Project), 15.433-MW Hydro Kennebec Hydroelectric Project No. 2611 (Hydro Kennebec Project), and 6.915-MW Lockwood Hydroelectric Project No. 2574 (Lockwood Project). All four projects are located on the Kennebec River between river miles 63 and 81.5, in Kennebec and Somerset Counties, Maine. The projects do not occupy federal land.

On January 31, 2020, Brookfield Renewable (Brookfield) on behalf of Brookfield White Pine Hydro LLC filed an application for a new license to continue to operate and maintain the Shawmut Project. On June 1, 2021, in a separate proceeding for the Shawmut Project, Brookfield filed an Interim Species Protection Plan (Interim Plan) for the federally listed endangered Atlantic salmon and requested Commission approval to amend the current Shawmut license to incorporate the Interim Plan. The Interim Plan includes measures to protect endangered Atlantic salmon until the Commission issues a decision on the relicense application for the Shawmut Project. Also on June 1, 2021, Brookfield, on behalf of Brookfield White Pine Hydro LLC, licensee for the Weston Project; Hydro Kennebec LLC, licensee for the Hydro Kennebec Project; and the Merimil Limited Partnership, licensee for the Lockwood Project, filed a Final Species Protection Plan (Final Plan) for federally listed Atlantic salmon, threatened Atlantic sturgeon, and endangered shortnose sturgeon and requested Commission approval to amend the three project licenses to incorporate the Final Plan. On September 21, 2022, Brookfield filed supplemental information and updated its Proposed Actions for the Shawmut relicensing and the license amendments for all four projects.

The primary issues associated with the proposed actions are upstream and downstream passage for diadromous fish species, including: Atlantic salmon, alewife, blueback herring, American shad, American eel, and sea lamprey.

The Shawmut Interim Plan includes proposed operational measures to protect Atlantic salmon under the current license until a decision is made on the Shawmut relicense application. The Shawmut relicense application and the Final Plan include proposed upstream and downstream fish passage facilities, operational measures, and monitoring measures designed to enhance upstream and downstream fish passage and avoid or minimize the potential adverse effects of continued operation of the projects on threatened and endangered fish species.

In the Draft EIS, Commission staff recommends relicensing the Shawmut Project and amending the licenses for the four projects under the Staff Alternative, which includes Brookfield's proposed measures, as well as certain mandatory conditions and recommendations made by state and federal agencies and some staff-recommended modifications to further enhance fish passage and increase fish survival.

The deadline to comment on the Draft EIS is June 4, 2024.