2016-09-23 / Letters

Kennebunk can be part of energy solution

To the editor:

Kennebunk is here, for many of us, but how did it get here?

An atlas of the world shows that where waters meet, humanity has flourished. It’s humanity’s nourishment for food, transportation and in many cases, water power.

Saw mills replaced the sweating people using the up and down pit saws with the up and down water powered rack saws. Beams in the Kennebunk Unitarian Church over 200 years old show the marks.

The West Kennebunk Dane and Perkins Saw Mill picture is on the web. Rosalind Magnuson’s book, “Trunks, Textiles and Transits” (available at the Brick Store Museum) vividly pictures the industriousness of the entrepreneurs’ (Davis Shoe: 111,660 pairs of shoes shipped in January 1884).

After the fire of 1903, the new building, the Lafayette Center, incorporated a complete sprinkler system – the steam boilers and hydropower being the source of power for heat and motive energy for the shafting. The Leffel generator of 150 kw was placed in the Lafayette Center’s basement in 1928 and Kesslen Shoe produced over 3 million pairs of shoes in 1952.

That generator has enabled many families to live and work in Kennebunk with electric lighting on the Main Street.

Recent calculations based on 51 years of water flow data from the USGS and running the present three KLPD hydropower generators, if refurbished and properly managed and maintained, could produce over 3.2 million kwh hours/year, a big improvement over the Wright-Pierce report of 1.4 million kwh.

If the assets on the river are expanded and improved in future years, this value could be doubled. Imagine over 5.5 million kwh hours of power.

The town fathers are the ones elected for their vision, and entrepreneurial anticipation of a very prosperous town using the pot of gold – the historic settlers gave and nurtured for those that were to follow.

A means forward could be established by the present inhabitants with the desire to keep the town vibrant and grow the pot of gold. The selectmen could be the ones to plan a vibrant future.

This summer, the Wind and Hydropower section of the Department of Energy presented their vision from now until 2050. Many avenues of government leading and stimulating 150 percent expansion of U.S. hydropower to help balance the grid, fight global warming, increase jobs, help solve the related the environmental impacts with improved management and technology, will improve the present 85 percent green energy supplied by present hydropower.

Kennebunk could be part of the solution instead of the problem. Let’s stimulate the KLPD president and trustees to be caretakers of our planet and build Kennebunk’s pot of gold.

Peter Ashley
Cape Neddick

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