After Brookfield Provides New Information to Federal Government, Maine DEP Offers Brookfield Opportunity to Submit Updated Application
October 12, 2022
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is offering Brookfield Renewable Energy the opportunity to submit an updated application for a Water Quality Certification (WQC) for the Shawmut Hydroelectric Project that incorporates new information, analyses, and comments.
DEP is offering Brookfield the opportunity after the global, multibillion dollar energy company very recently amended its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a new operating license for the Shawmut Dam. The amended application provides significant new information about proposed measures Brookfield would take to protect Atlantic salmon.
FERC is now in the process of gathering public comment on Brookfield's new information and will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on Brookfields application. The public comment period closes October 25th.
Additionally, in July 2022, FERC granted the National Marine Fisheries Services request to further delay its federal Endangered Species Act findings related to Atlantic salmon in the Kennebec River. According to the extension request, new information emerged as a result of discussions between the National Marine Fisheries Service and Brookfield related to impacts on Atlantic salmon. That analysis is still pending.
DEP will then consider these analyses, along with any response or other additional information Brookfield may wish to submit as part of its updated application. This process ensures that DEP will have the benefit of the most current and best available information when it acts on the merits of the WQC application.
DEPs decision today does not change the dams current operation, and Governor Mills has made clear that she will not support any action in the relicensing process that would jeopardize the future of the Sappi Mill.
"The Department believes it is crucial to take into account all relevant and updated scientific information and analysis because a Department Order approving the application could contain enforceable conditions and timelines," said Melanie Loyzim, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Todays action does not require any changes to the operations of the dam, and we look forward to engaging with Brookfield to move this process forward.
DEPs action is procedural and not based on the merits of the application. DEP had to act on the WQC now because Federal law requires states to act on FERC applications within one year of submission.
Brookfield will now be able to apply for a WQC incorporating Federally required measures for endangered species protection, and DEP will be able to consider that application with full information, analyses and comments necessary to determine what operating conditions are necessary to meet Maines water quality standards.
DEPs Order and letter to Brookfield are available on DEPs website.
For additional information, contact: David Madore, Deputy Commissioner email@example.com