Hydropower & Dams

DEP Hydropower Coordinator, Kathy Howatt (207) 446-2642

Hydropower -- Federal Process

Under the Federal Power Act, the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) is responsible for licensing hydroelectric power projects. FERC's hydro licensing process involves consultation with state agencies, which may recommend license terms and conditions to FERC to protect and enhance water quality, fisheries resources, public recreation, renewable energy production, and other public interests. In addition, under section 401 of the Clean Water Act, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) (or the Land Use Planning Commission in the unorganized area of the State) has independent authority to issue water certification to ensure that a hydro project will meet state water quality requirements. When FERC issues a license for a hydro project, the terms and conditions in the state water quality certification become part of that federal license.

The main purposes of these webpages are to:

  • Provide information to members of the public on the status of hydropower projects in the FERC process; and
  • Facilitate informed public comment to state agencies on plans, studies, terms and conditions to be recommended by state agencies in the FERC process.

Further information regarding the FERC process is available through the FERC website.

Contact: Kathy Howatt (207) 446-2642

Status Reports

Hydropower -- State Process

The Maine Waterway Development and Conservation Act (MWDCA) requires that a permit be issued for the construction, reconstruction, or structural alteration (including maintenance and repair) of new or existing hydropower projects. Hydropower projects include water-powered electrical and mechanical generating projects and water storage projects. The MWDCA sets up a comprehensive, one-stop state permitting process that is administered by DEP for projects in organized municipalities and by LUPC in unorganized territories. The law requires consideration of the full range of economic, environmental, and energy benefits and adverse impacts of a hydro project.

The Federal Clean Water Act requires that the States certify that the construction or operation of hydropower projects subject to federal licensing meets State water quality standards. Federal licenses are issued for terms of 30 to 50 years. DEP is the water quality certification agency for projects in organized municipalities.

Contact: Kathy Howatt (207) 446-2642

Statutes

Title 38, Chapter 5 including:

  • 38 MRSA §§ 630-637. Permits for hydropower projects
  • 38 MRSA §640, Public Participation

Rules

Ch. 450. Administrative Regulations for Hydropower Projects

Forms

  • Application Addendum: Dam Removal. This addendum describes the pre-application meeting and public informational meeting requirements that must be satisfied by anyone intending to file an application for a Maine Waterway Development and Conservation Act permit to remove an existing dam.
  • Application Addendum: Earthfill Cofferdams. This addendum describes the additional information that must accompany the filing of Form Hydro.2 or Form Hydro.3 whenever an applicant proposes the use of an earthfill confferdam as part of project construction/reconstruction or maintenance and repair activities.
  • Application Addendum: Pre-Application and Public Meeting Requirements for Dam Removal Applications. This addendum describes the pre-application meeting requirements and public informational meeting requirements that must be satisfied by anyone intending to file an application for a Maine Waterway Development and Conservation Act permit to remove an existing hydropower dam.
  • Condition Compliance. This form shall be used to comply with conditions on Orders for hydropower projects which require
    approval by the Board or Department of Environmental Protection..
  • Project Construction/Reconstruction (Form Hydro.2). This form is used to request a Maine Waterway Development and Conservation Act permit and Water Quality Certification for the proposed FERC relicensing/relicensing and/or construction, reconstruction or structural alteration of a hydropower project.
  • Project Maintenance and Repair (Form Hydro.3). This form is used to request a Maine Waterway Development and Conservation Act permit and Water Quality Certification for the proposed maintenance and repair of an existing hydropower project where no expansion of generating capacity is proposed.
  • Project Modification- Amendment. This form shall be used to request approval of an amendment to: (a) project design or operation; or (b) the conditions of a permit as previously approved by the Board or Department of Environmental Protection.
  • Project Modification - Minor Revision. This form shall be used to request approval of minor revision to: (a) project design or operation; or (b) the conditions of a permit as previously approved by the Board or Department of Environmental Protection where the modification significantly decreases or eliminates an environmental impact, does not significantly expand the project, does not change the nature of the project or does not modify any Department findings with respect to any licensing criteria.
  • Request for Consultation (Form Hydro.0). This form shall be used to request consultation review and comments for the proposed federal licensing or relicensing of a hydropower project.
  • Tidal Energy Demonstration Project (Form Hydro.GP).  This form is used to request a general permit under the Maine Waterway Development and Conservation Act and Water Quality Certification for the proposed FERC pilot project licensing of the construction and operation of a tidal energy demonstration project.
  • Transfer. This form shall be used for the transfer of permit/certification authorization for the construction
    and/or operation of a hydropower project.
  • Water Quality Certification (Form Hydro.1). This form shall be used to request Water Quality Certification for the proposed FERC licensing or relicensing of an existing hydropower generating or storage project where no construction, reconstruction or structural alteration of project facilities which would affect water levels or flows is proposed.

Supplemental Materials

Hyfropower Relicensing (DEP Information Sheet)

Regulation of Tidal and Wave Energy Projects (DEP Information Sheet)

Draft Transfer Orders

None at this time.

Non Hydropower Dams

DEP has regulatory authority over non-hydropower dams through various laws dealing with the permitting of construction and repair activities, the maintenance of water levels and slow releases, and the release of dam owners from ownership or water level maintenance.

Contact: Kathy Howatt (207) 446-2642

Forms

Petition to set water levels/minimum flows

Petition for release from dam ownership or water level maintenance

Supplemental Materials 

Regulation of Dams (Issue Profile)
Regulation of Water Levels and Minimum Flows (this packet includes a water level petition form).
Water Level Management

Licensing Reviews

Branch Pond Water Level Petition
Clary Lake Petition, Contact: Beth Callahan, (207) 446-1586
Saccarappa MWDCA Application