Dam plan has no income to cover costs

To the editor,

KLPD wants to surrender the license but keep the dams in place. To keep the forces of mother nature from the inevitable deterioration and failure of the dams they will require maintenance?

When America First Hydro, LLC, applied for the new license with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), they intended to own the dams and operate the hydro power to generate an income, acquire the value of a 40-year FERC license, so they could sell the dams to someone else. This was a way that KLPD would be free of the liability and costs related to ownership maintenance.

AFH failed over the past three years to meet the FERC date deadlines to complete seven studies and was therefore denied the application to own and operate the dams. FERC is stepping away from its responsibility of regulating dam safety with KLPD now proposing to surrender and keep the dams in place. Through the surrender process and eventual approval for the KLPD surrender plan, the federal government passes the regulatory safety responsibility to the state of Maine’s governing entities.

With KLPD now faced again with the ownership the dams, they face the responsibility to maintain the structures. The Wright-Pierce 2016 report of Hydropwer Facility Alternative Assessment Study recommended alternative options for KLPD not to renew the license, and its economic comparison of estimated costs. Specifically; Alternative 4 -Cease Operation and surrender FERC license (all sites) provided a cost estimate for KLPD over an eight-year plan to remove the dams. By keeping the dams, KLPD avoids the costs for dam removal.

Taking out the two years to remove the dams, W-P estimates the remaining costs for the surrender plan at $1,040,722. But by KLPD keeping the dams in alternative W-P options, they estimate the “Capital Maintenance” for keeping the dam structures would cost $590,000 (2016 dollars) over 40-years.

This is a far cry from an estimate “south of $100,000.” The current surrender-in-place plan has no income to cover costs. Without maintenance and dam failure the liability to KLPD estimated by others, could reach $20 million.

Albert Kolff


Town can be proud of process

To the editor,

In the wake of the COVID pandemic and the riot in our nation’s capitol, I want to share some reassuring local news. As you may know, a school board director from RSU 21 recently resigned. The responsibility for appointing an interim director, in this case, was the Kennebunk Select Board, which conducted the selection process via Zoom.

Nine Kennebunk residents filed papers which included their written answers to five questions. At the Dec. 5 select board meeting, the candidates had the opportunity to comment on their written answers and to answer questions from the board and the public.

The discussion was civil and the participants (candidates, board members and the public) advocated for what they thought was best for the students and the school system as a whole. All showed respect for each other even when expressing differing points of view. There was push-back at times, but the tone remained positive.

Each of these excellent candidates was passionate about wanting to serve as interim director and didn’t hesitate to state why he/she was the best candidate.

At the second meeting, the board had the task of selecting the interim director who would serve until the end of June. The tone of that meeting was also positive. Every member of the board both participated and listened to the input from the candidates and the public. And, the candidates often complimented each other. The process was heated at times and the decision wasn’t unanimous, but the process was democratic and accepted by all.

We can be proud of this small but important piece of current Kennebunk history.

Bob Wuerthner