Poliquin Tours Hydropower System, Reasserts Legislation

By Amy Jeanroy

 

A group of about 50 supporters came together in Grand Lake Stream, to hear Congressman Bruce Poliquin speak about his proposed legislation, H.R. 5464, to provide that certain project works on the St. Croix River, Maine are not required to be licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

Included in his comments, Poliquin called his legislation a "common sense proposal that frees the Woodland Pulp mill from job-killing regulations."

The new 200 page of regulations in question are the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proposed changes that would, according to the Woodland Pulp, cost over a million dollars a year more than simply buying the energy, if the dams were removed. 

The hydropower system Woodland Pulp owns, consists of water storage facilities at Forest City, Vanceboro and West Grand Lake. These dams produce just less than 3 percent of the hydro system’s power, which in total accounts for about one-fifth of the mill’s total energy usage. The system’s larger power producing dams at Woodland and Grand Falls are not currently regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) because they were approved by Congress prior to the Federal Power Act of 1920 this legislation does not specifically address the storage dams.

Congressman Poliquin’s bill would clarify and restate original Congressional intent that the storage dams do not fall under FERC jurisdiction because they are part of a hydro system approved prior to the Federal Power Act and because they generate limited power. The dams would still be overseen by state and international agencies and be managed by the mill as they have for decades in a way that ensures habitat health and public safety as well as recreational opportunity in the region beloved by sportsmen.

Also present, Baileyville Town Manager Rick Bronson told the group assembled, “The current regulatory system has developed and protected the existing industry and great environment for more than a century; there is no need to change that system.  We thank Representative Poliquin for continuing to work with us to protect this irreplaceable situation for today and the future.”

 Says Poliquin of his proposed bill: 

"This legislation, is supported by mill managers, union leaders and workers; small businesses and organizations; and town and county officials and the entire Washington County legislative delegation. Area guides, sporting camp owners and current and retired fisheries biologists also support the bill because they say it protects the region’s iconic land-locked salmon fishery and recognizes the mill’s proven commitment to managing the watershed."

 

 Woodland Pulp, along with St. Croix Tissue, is the largest employer in Washington County.  Sustainability at Woodland Pulp and St. Croix is critical to Washington County and to Maine’s larger forest economy.