Black Bear Hydro seeking Army Corps approval of hydroelectric dam upgrades

Posted June 19, 2012, at 4:59 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Black Bear Hydro Partners LLC has applied for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct dam upgrades in the Stillwater River, according to the Army Corps.

Black Bear Hydro is seeking permission to place temporary and permanent fill materials below the high-water line of the Stillwater River at the Orono and Stillwater hydroelectric dam sites so it can begin work.

The company plans to build and operate a second powerhouse with three turbine generator units at the Stillwater dam, increasing capacity by 2.23 megawatts, as well as a new downstream fish passage and upstream eel passage, according to the Army Corps.

At the Orono dam, Black Bear Hydro plans to install similar upgrades, with an increased capacity of 3.74 megawatts.

The upgrades are intended to make up for the energy capacity that will be lost with the demolition of the Great Works and Veazie dams on the Penobscot River, according to the company.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection approved the upgrades of the two dams in September 2011.

Work at the two dams is part of a broader effort by the Penobscot River Restoration Trust to restore populations of 11 native species of sea-run fish by removing obstacles and opening the river to them.

The trust purchased the Veazie and Great Works dams and another in Howland with plans to put them out of service and allow fish to travel farther up the Penobscot River into the central portions of the state.

Crews began to demolish the Great Works dam on June 11, and the Veazie dam is scheduled to come down by 2014. The Howland dam will be decommissioned and bypassed by a fish lift. A dam in Milford also is scheduled to get a fish lift.

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