2016-04-08 / Letters

Mousam River activists should reach out to potential allies

To the editor:

After reading and re-reading the Wright-Pierce Report, we firmly believe that all three dams on the Mousam should be retained, keeping these town treasures intact, and that we also take the additional necessary green power steps to maximize our hydro-electric production for the district’s ratepayers.

The license exemption option appears tailor-made for our unique situation.

Because of a classification error, the small size of our ratepayer base, the growing local support for keeping all three dams, the six-year time span of this regulatory decision-making process, and potential allies who could help us, we can win this fight against these outside interests.

Anything less this spring than a firm intent declaration to keep all three dams would be a white flag surrender without a shot being fired.

Sometime in the past, the district mistakenly registered our three dams, count ’em, in the four or more dams regulatory category, requiring us now to undertake a more costly and rigid review process. Who made this classification error which has now come back to bite us? Why hasn’t the district disclosed this potentially costly mistake to the ratepayers?

Local citizens, now aware of the slick coordinated attack on our river, are rallying to save the Mousam defense. As the weather improves and folks, many for the first time and wanting to see what this is all about, will get out on their river, and that support will only escalate. A rush to an early intent decision to tear down the three dams could be seen as an effort to cut this growing resistance off at the knees.

Between this spring and KLPD’s license to generate power expiration on March 31, 2022, we have six years to organize even more local support, prepare our keep the three dams case, and to win.

We do have potential resources which may help us make our argument.

Late last year, U.S. Sen. Angus King met with the district and, according to news stories at the time, was taken aback by the costly and severe regulatory process our small, nonprofit electric utility was facing. My legislative experience in Augusta with then-Gov. King was that when he dug into an issue, you couldn’t deter him as he worked toward a fair resolution. Has the district continued to follow up with Sen. King?

In a Dec. 30 email to the trustees, I urged them to also reach out to Sen. Susan Collins to potentially enlist her support and efforts in this relicensing process. Did the trustees do so?

When you have a U.S. senator making his or her way through the complex maze of a federal regulatory agency and the plain outright foolishness of many of their hoops-to-jump-through for a very small, nonprofit electric utility, it could cause some introspective and thoughtful moments at FERC.

During the past five years, Maine’s governor has been a fearless advocate that hydropower is the key to meeting the future power needs of our state. Have the trustees met with the governor or his staff about the potential loss of this renewable, green power source in Kennebunk?

The state energy office could be a major contributor to how we can maximize our power production when we keep our three dams. Has the energy office been contacted by the district?

Potential allies don’t become allies unless you reach out to them.

By following the exemption option, not only will we get to keep our three dams, the district and its ratepayers will be exempt in the future and the generations of Kennebunkers who follow us will never have this process thrust upon them again by outside special interests.

In return, our legal obligation is that we must increase our power generation at the three dams.

The outside interests demanding the tear down of our dams won’t like it, but this option sure sounds like a win-win for the district, the ratepayers and the citizens of Kennebunk.

Tom Murphy
Kennebunk Landing

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