- Hydro Facilities
In the mid eighteen hundreds, the Kesslen Shoe Factory was the largest employer in the Town of Kennebunk. Located in the heart of downtown beside the Mousam River, the factory obtained the power to operate pulleys and conveyor belts from a water wheel powered by the river. In 1893, the Town purchased the turbine rights at the Kesslen Shoe Factory. This purchase provided the necessary cash flow for the shoe factory to remain in business and started the municipally owned electric light department.
Over the years, the Kennebunk Light & Power District acquired two more factory sites on the river that had timber and dirt dams and water powered turbines. In the mid nineteen eighties the District updated the Kesslen turbine and dam, removed and replaced both dams at the other sites – Twine Mill and Dane Perkins – and upgraded the turbines at those sites as well. The three dams were licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) during this time period receiving a license that expires in March of 2022. Given the current complicated process for re-licensing, the FERC requires a notice of intent to be filed five years before the expiration date of the license. In order to prepare for the notice of intent filing, the District has begun the process of analyzing and evaluating the condition and value of the dams and turbines. The power point presentation you can access here will give you a detailed description of the process the District will be following over the next few years. If you have any questions, please contact the General Manager at (207) 985-3311 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to be kept informed of this process, please email your name, address, phone number and email address to email@example.com
Hydro Projects Activities Update
A number of activities have been completed over the summer and early fall that were noted in the last newsletter under “What is on the Horizon”?. The following summarizes these accomplishments.
The gate repair project at the Kesslen dam was completed on October 22. This project involved replacement of the gate and the mechanism that allows for safe operation of it by our employees. As many likely noticed, this effort required the drawdown of the impoundment. This upgrade project was very successful and now this operation is a much safer activity for our staff.
As required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the inspections of the three dams were completed by an experienced and licensed professional engineer from the firm of Wright-Pierce. While the inspection reports are still being developed, we are happy to report that the dams remain to be structurally sound.
The possibility of selling the three dams and hydropower projects has been identified as one option for the future of these assets. Sixteen companies were contacted to determine if they would be interested in obtaining these facilities. After going through review of information about the assets, four companies elected to move through the due diligence activities including a site visit to the facilities and review of more detailed data. At the conclusion of this process, none of the four companies elected to propose a bid for the projects.
Outreach was also done with a number of equipment vendors who specialize in new technologies for generating power under “low-head” conditions. Although this research is still underway, three companies did conduct site visits during the summer. One determined that due to other project priorities, they declined to continue their assessment of the sites. Discussions will continue with the remaining two companies and additional research will be conducted to see if other technologies can be applied.
To facilitate our efforts to address the multitude of assessments and outreach programs being planned to help understand what path should be followed regarding the three dams and hydropower projects, a new project manager was hired in late October to assist our General Manager, Sharon Staz. Wright-Pierce was awarded the contract for the services of Patricia McIlvaine, following review of five responses received to our Request for Proposal. Pat and others at Wright-Pierce have been assisting KLPD on a number of studies already, starting in early 2011. We welcome the help Pat will be able to provide in helping us move these studies along at a faster pace than we have been able to do, given all of Sharon’s other responsibilities to the ratepayers.
The hydrologic modeling of the Mousam River is well underway. This modeling will help determine what the river conditions (river width and depth) at key locations would likely be during typical summer flow conditions should one or more of the dams be removed. This modeling will be completed in November. These results will also help in the development of photo-simulations being prepared at these same key locations that will be useful at future public outreach meetings to help the residents of the area have some understanding of how the river characteristics could change.