HISTORY OF HYDROPOWER REGULATION IN MAINE The initial licenses for most existing projects, in Maine and nationwide, were issued by FERC during the 1950's and 60's. Before the early 1950's, FERC did not concern itself with hydropower licensing or questions of navigability or water quality. However, the courts expanded FERC's jurisdiction during the 1950's. These early licenses were backdated and set for expiration between 1987 and 1993 by the Federal Power Commission, forerunner of today's FERC.
The Maine Rivers Policy (12 MRSA §§401-406) and the Maine Waterway Development and Conservation Act (MWDCA) (38 MRSA §§630-637) were enacted in 1983 as the Maine Rivers Act. These statutes are part of the Maine Comprehensive Rivers Management Plan submitted to FERC during the spring of 1987 as fulfillment of the State's obligation for comprehensive river planning. The 1987 Plan also includes projections of the State's hydropower potential, a Statewide Fisheries Plan, the core laws regulating use of Maine's rivers, and the Maine Rivers Study, a comprehensive review of river resources worthy of protection.
In the Maine Rivers Act, 1983, the Legislature declared that certain rivers, because of their unparalleled natural and recreational values, provide irreplaceable social and economic benefits to the people in their existing state. The Act prohibited the construction of new dams on these river and stream segments without the specific authorization of the Legislature and required that additional development or redevelopment of existing dams be designed and executed in a manner that either enhances or does not diminish the significant resource values of these river and stream segments. The Act identified the following "Outstanding River Segments" of the Kennebec as qualifying for this special protection. Additional segments were protected by the Subdivision Law (30 MRSA §4401).
• Kennebec River
-- Bay Point to the Father Curran Bridge (from Thorne Head Narrows in North Bath to the Edwards Dam in Augusta, excluding Perkins Township [Subdivision law]).
-- Route 148 Bridge in Madison to the Caratunk and Forks Plantation townline, excluding the western shore in Corncord township, Pleasant Ridge Plantation and Carrying Place Township and excluding Wyman Lake [Subdivision law].
-- Confluence of the Dead and Kennebec Rivers up to but not including the Harris Dam.
• Dead River from its confluence with the Kennebec to the upstream limit of Big Eddy.
• Moose River from its inlet into Attean Pond to its confluence with Number One Brook in Beattie Township.
• Carrabassett River from the Kennebec River to the Carrabassett Valley and Mt. Abram Township townline [Subdivision law].
For a listing of those stream and river segments in the Kennebec basin identified as having unique and/or significant resource value by the Maine Rivers Study see Appendix E.
This document is the first in an effort to apply statewide policies to specific rivers; as such, it is a logical next step in the State's continuing efforts to protect its invaluable river resources.