Mousam dams: What’s goin’ on?

To the editor,

This is the time we need to consider what KLPD is doing with America First Hydro (AFH) to save the Mousam River dams. With AFH applying for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license to operate the dams, the dams are saved for at least 40 years. Currently, KLPD is saving the dams by negotiating with AFH to transfer the license. But transferring the license implies giving up ownership of the dams to AFH, evidenced by the trustees voting to pay off the $229,000 bond at a KLPD board meeting Dec. 23 (it’s more like paying off the mortgage on your house so you can sell it.).

There are two problems with this approach:

1.) The charter that founded the Kennebunk Light and Power District in 1951: “Sec. 10 Powers and duties of trustees. … Nothing in this act shall be construed as authorizing said trustees to sell, lease or otherwise dispose of the whole or any part of the franchise of properties … unless first authorized by majority vote of the town of Kennebunk to do so.” KLPD’s legal counsel believes a vote by the ratepayers (Kennebunk voters) is not needed.

2.) But just saving the dams does not keep them. The electricity generated and the three dams that harnessed the hydropower are the real properties that established KLPD in the first place. In 2013 the three dams provided $133,000 of electricity. Instead of making electricity, KLPD would now need to purchase the electricity AFH makes from their owning the dams.

There is an alternative.

If AFH owns the hydropower generation through the new license with FERC and KLPD owned the dams also with the approval from FERC, the LEASE to AFH for use of the dams would generate $5,181,000 of revenue to KLPD. This co-license from FERC keeps the dams with Kennebunk ratepayers and saves the dams for the future.

Albert Kolff