Court questions Maine hydro plant permit rejection

By Lesley Clark | 04/22/2024 04:31 PM EDT

The state didn’t give a hydropower dam operator enough information about why it won’t get a water quality permit, the company told a federal court

The Shawmut dam spans the Kennebec River.

The Shawmut dam spans the Kennebec River on Sept. 14, 2021, in Fairfield, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty/AP

A panel of federal judges appeared skeptical today that Maine failed to provide enough information when it denied a water quality permit for a hydropower project.

At issue is a permit held by Brookfield White Pine Hydro to operate the Shawmut Hydroelectric Project on the lower Kennebec River. The project is undergoing relicensing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but it needs a water quality certificate from the state before FERC can issue a new license.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection denied a certificate in October 2022. Matthew Warner, an attorney for the company, argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Brookfield White Pine Hydro v. FERC that Maine had failed to provide the company with sufficient details about its decision.


“By not providing the details, the state left Brookfield without any idea of what it needed to do to comply,” Warner said.