The Union River dam in Ellsworth. Black Bear Hydro has applied to renew its license for the hydropower facility. FILE PHOTO

Extension granted for dam flooding study

ELLSWORTH — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given Black Bear Hydro Partners, the company that operates the dams on Leonard and Graham lakes, more time to provide information about potential flooding resulting from different water levels in Graham Lake.

In June, FERC staff asked Black Bear for more information about effects of “alternative impoundment operating ranges” on flooding in the project area. The company controls the rise and fall of the water level in Graham Lake within limits, storing water when the demand for hydropower generated at the Ellsworth dam is low and releasing water to drive the dam’s electricity-generating turbines when demand increases.

FERC asked the company to provide the information by last Friday, Aug. 14.

Last Monday, Aug. 10, Black Bear asked FERC to extend the deadline for providing the information until Dec. 12 and the federal agency agreed to the extension. According to the company, it is still “acquiring data associated with a hydraulic model that is used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)” that would significantly improve Black Bear’s analysis of the potential flooding.

FERC determined that giving the company more time would give Black Bear more time to furnish the analysis the agency staff wants and would not “unreasonably delay” the ongoing relicensing process for the dam.

Black Bear began the process for renewing its license for the Ellsworth dam and its hydropower generating plant nearly eight years ago.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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