ELLSWORTH — Brookfield Renewable, the owner of the Ellsworth Hydroelectric Project, submitted an application for water quality certification to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on April 9, the deadline for submittal.
The application is the next step in a relicensing process that has been under way since 2015. The issuing body, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, will not approve a license without water quality certification from the state. Certification was last issued in 1987, at the time of relicensing. The department has up to a year to review the application.
The application is “currently under staff review for completeness,” according to an email from David Madore, director of communications for the department. Staff has until April 24 to determine if the application is complete, at which point it will be “formally accepted for processing,” Madore wrote.
The department takes into account “the full range of economic, environmental, and energy benefits and adverse impacts” when evaluating a hydropower project for certification, according to its website, and may add conditions to its certification that must become part of the federal license.
The relicensing of the project has been contentious, with residents expressing concerns about fluctuating water levels, safe passage for fish, loss of property values, degraded water quality and erosion, among other issues.
Brookfield acquired the dam in 2013 as part of a portfolio that included several assets. The Toronto-based company owns 47 hydroelectric facilities in Maine and New Hampshire.