July 22, 2013

Mousam River dams at turning point

A local group is hoping relicensing decisions about three dams will favor access for spawning fish.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Alex Mendelsohn, Bill Grabin, and R.J. Mere, all members of the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers Alliance, stand near the Kesslen Dam in Kennebunk. The Kesslen is one of three hydroelectric dams on the Mousam River owned by Kennebunk Light and Power District.

Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

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The Kesslen Dam was in place by the mid-1850s and has been generating electricity for the power district since 1893, said Sharon Staz, general manager of Kennebunk Light and Power.

Staz said the dams currently produce power to cover 1.3 percent of the district's needs, though at times that number has risen to around 5 percent. An analysis of energy production from the dams will be done as part of the relicensing process, she said.

Any decisions about the dams will be made to meet Kennebunk Light and Power's goal of developing a cost-effective plan that meets the needs of its customers and the wider community, Staz said.

Barry Tibbetts, town manager of Kennebunk, said town officials will closely follow the review and relicensing process because "it affects the town at many different levels." If the district has to borrow money for dam-related projects, it will require a townwide referendum.

"(The Mousam River) runs right through the heart of our downtown and through some dense residential areas," Tibbetts said, noting the town will have many questions about the economic and environmental impacts of removing the dams or leaving them in place. "I think it's good this is starting early. It allows us time for review and for collective wisdom to come up with the best solution. That's what we want for the community, the best solution."

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@mainetoday.com

Twitter: grahamgillian

 

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Today's poll: Dam removal

Do you agree with efforts to remove dams on many Maine rivers?

Yes

No

View Results