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State Board Upholds Ruling That Two Ellsworth Dams Can't Be Relicensed

The Brookfield Renewables dam on the Union River in Ellsworth.
Downeast Salmon Federation
The Brookfield Renewable dam on the Union River in Ellsworth.

Two hydroelectric dams in the Union River in Ellsworth and nearby Graham Lake can't be relicensed after the Maine Board of Environmental Protection voted Thursday to uphold a previous denial by the state environmental protection agency.

Brett Ciccotelli of the Downeast Salmon Federation says the dams operated by Brookfield Renewable kill fish and other aquatic life, erode soil, and deplete water oxygen levels — and he adds that they need upgrades.

"They operate dams throughout the state of Maine and around the world that comply with standards. They know how to do this. They just chose not do them here," he says.

Ciccotelli says until the dams receive water quality certification by the state, they can't receive federal relicensing to operate.

In a written statement, Brookfield Renewable says it will pursue legal and regulatory options to secure water quality certification and - quote- "ensure continued generation of renewable energy for the long-term."