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August 30, 2017

Woodland Pulp says dam's cost outweighs its benefit

Woodland Pulp, the paper mill in Baileyville adjacent to the St. Croix River, is petitioning the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to allow it to transfer ownership of the U.S. portion of the Forest City dam to the state.

Among the reasons for that request is that it will cost at least $6 million more to operate the dam over the new 30-year license than the generation benefits accrued over that term, according to the company's attorney.

The Quoddy Tides reported the company's July 27 petition is the latest development in Woodland's efforts to be relieved of requirements spelled out in the FERC license issued in 2015.

The company had applied last year to FERC to surrender its license and to decommission the dam structure by permanently removing two of it gates on the U.S. But that proposal raised concern by camp owners on the 25-square-mile East Grand Lake, which would have seen its water level drop by more than six feet.

In July, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was authorized by a resolve approved by the Maine Legislature to assume ownership of the U.S. portion of the dam if FERC issues a determination that the dam will not require a FERC license and if Inland Fisheries and Wildlife enters an agreement with Woodland Pulp for the company to operate and maintain the dam, at the direction of the state and at no cost to the state, for 15 years.

Woodland's July 27 petition asks FERC to do just that.

FERC spokesperson Celeste Miller told the paper there is no statutory timeline for making a decision on Woodland Pulp's request.

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