FPL ENERGY MARINE Hydro has announced it has reached an agreement with government agencies, conservation groups and commercial interests on the relicensing of Maine’s largest hydroelectric dam and power plant in the US.

  Harris Station, located along the upper Kennebec river at Indian Pond, began operating in 1955 and its federal licence is up for renewal. The 88MW hydro station is operated as a peaking power facility but the Kennebec river is also Maine’s premier rafting river and is heavily used by fishermen.

As part of the relicensing process, the utility entered settlement negotiations two years ago. The process included about 25 studies involving fisheries, water quality, recreation, cultural resources and land and wildlife resources at a cost of US$2M. FPL has agreed to increase river flow, donate about US$700,000 to protect fisheries habitat, and guarantee water releases to support boaters, anglers and the whitewater rafting industry.

Additionally, FPL will donate land around Indian Pond for conservation purposes and will attempt to protect lands along the Kennebec Gorge.

The dam’s current licence from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission expires on 31 December and FPL Energy said the agency is expected to issue a new licence early in 2002.