Restoring the Mousam and Creating a Cleaner Energy Future for Kennebunk
The Kennebunk Light and Power District (KLPD) operates three small dams on the Mousam River: the Kesslen, Twine Mill, and Dane Perkins dams. Decades ago these dams were a significant source of electricity, but today the dams are antiquated and inefficient, producing less than 2% of electricity used by ratepayers. The dams have become a bad investment for ratepayers, and they have seriously damaged the health of one of the greatest natural resources in the Kennebunk region.
Removing Dams will Restore Mousams Vitality
The Mousam is the largest river system in Maine lacking standard equipment like fish ladders to allow fish to pass through dams. The dams block movement of all fish species upstream and downstream, and as a result, sea- run and other native fish species have been unable to access any of the river’s freshwater habitats above Kesslen Dam for more than a century.
Restoring the free-flow of water in the Mousam will improve water quality and it will dramatically improve habitat for American shad, blueback herring,
Atlantic salmon, alewives, brook trout, the American eel, and other native species. The stretch of natural, free- flowing river and estuary below the Kesslen Dam supports healthy fisheries for striped bass, shad, and stocked brook trout and brown trout. This undammed stretch of river also supports excellent opportunities for paddling, bird watching, and wildlife observation. All of these recreational activities would be greatly enhanced through dam removal.
A Smart Fiscal Choice for Kennebunk Rate Payers
KLPD’s dams must be relicensed soon by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); a complex process that will cost KLPD rate payers several million dollars. Even such a large investment will not guarantee that FERC will grant new licenses, and it’s very likely the new licenses will come with expensive upstream and downstream fish passage requirements at each dam.
Based on the last decade’s data, the relicensing expenses alone (not including the upgrades and on-going maintenance) will be greater than the projected hydropower value over the dams’ serviceable lives, leading ultimately to customer rate increases.
The minimal hydropower that is produced now by the dams can be replaced (and then some) by the 3.5 MW solar farm proposal that KLPD is currently reviewing. This clean energy investment will reduce global warming and air pollution, and provide a stable clean energy hedge against rising natural gas and other fossil fuel costs.
Removing the Mousam dams and installing a major solar array are ‘win- win’ opportunities for Kennebunk residents and ratepayers.