LIHI Certificate #129 – North Gorham Project, Maine

Project Name North Gorham
LIHI Certificate No. 129
LIHI Certificate Term
April 27, 2021 – April 26, 2031
Owner Brookfield White Pine Hydro, LLC, a subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable Energy Group
State Maine
Location Located at river mile 23.6 on the Presumpscot River in Gorham, Standish, and Windham, Maine.
Installed Capacity 2.25 MW
Average Annual Generation 10,553 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-2519 issued in 1993, expires 12/31/2034

The North Gorham Project is located on the Presumpscot River in Gorham, Standish, and Windham Maine. The dam was constructed in 1915 and the project commenced operation in 1925. There are several dams on the Presumpscot River: from the outlet of Sebago Lake they include: Eel Weir (LIHI #137), North Gorham, Dundee (LIHI #138), Gambo (LIHI #139), Little Falls (LIHI #140) , Mallison Falls (LIHI #141), the former  Sacarappa Dam removed in 2019, and Cumberland Mills Dam.

The dam includes a non-overflow masonry wall section about 600 feet long, which creates a 98-acre impoundment and a bifurcated 470-foot-long bypassed reach.

An intake section about 51.5 feet long and 28 feet high with four gates 9.5 feet wide by 9.5 feet high, protected by trashracks with 1.25-inch clear spacing, a sluice gate section about 47 feet long with four submerged sliding gates each 4 feet wide by 5 feet high, a spillway section about 256.5 feet long, a sluice section about 15.5 feet long, and a cutoff wall section about 38 feet long. The maximum height of the dam is approximately 24 feet.  Four 8-foot diameter steel penstocks extend approximately 50 – 70 feet to two surge chambers, and a brick powerhouse contained two turbines connected to two generating units with a total installed capacity of 2.25 MW.

The project operates in a run-of-river mode with impoundment fluctuations limited to 1-foot, and provides a minimum base flow of 222 cfs, or inflow from the powerhouse or the spillway. Since the minimum hydraulic capacity of each turbine is 190 CFS, all flows less than that amount are passed through the spillway are are downstream fish passage flows. The minimum flow supports and enhances the anadromous fishery downstream in the lower Presumpscot River as well as providing habitat for resident fish. The flow regime is based on the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s New England default aquatic base flow and was approved by Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP).

Waters within the project reach are designated a Class A with no impaired waters in the project area as detailed in MDEP’s 2016 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report. Consultation with MDEP also confirmed that the project is meeting Class A water quality standards in the reach.

The Presumpscot River has historically supported migratory runs of Atlantic salmon, American shad, and alewife though the presence of downstream dams has prevented the migration of these species to the project. Upstream passage has not been prescribed by agencies, but they reserve their right to require such passage in the future. American eel are also present and the project owner voluntarily provides upstream eel passage. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) stocks salmon and trout in the project area which required downstream passage facilities at the project. Passage is provided into the bypassed reach via the sluice gates and a plunge pool. The project owner files annual operations and maintenance reports for downstream fish passage with resource agencies including USFWS, Maine Department of Marine Resources, MDIFW, and MDEP.  The project voluntarily provides nighttime shutdowns for downstream eel passage and conducts voluntary eel surveys in the tailrace.

The project boundary encompasses 44.6 acres of land around the dam and powerhouse and 98 acres within the impoundment. There are no lands of significant ecological value or critical habitats in the project reach. The shoreline is mostly forested with a small amount of development.

Threatened and endangered species potentially within the project property include: Northern long-eared bat, little brown bat, Eastern small-footed bat, bald eagle, and small whorled pogonia. The project owner consulted with MDIFW and USFWS to determine any impacts the project may have on listed species.  To ensure that no impacts on bats and small whorled pogonia occur, consultation with USFWS and a field survey must occur before construction activities are undertaken at the project site.

Cultural and historic resources include one archaeological site, “Great Falls” which, based on site surveys was determined to not be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. A Programmatic Agreement (PA) was signed involving FERC, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Maine State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) to address 10 hydropower projects under the same ownership, including North Gorham. The PA and resulting cultural resources management plan provides measures to protect cultural artifacts, including the Great Falls site. Annual reports are filed and the project owner consults with the SHPO prior to any land-clearing or ground-disturbing activities.

Recreational resources at the project include fishing access, a picnic area, a carry-in boat launch and a swimming area. Recreation use is monitored every six years. Public access is provided free of charge where safe.

Compliance Status

The Certificate includes the following facility-specific conditions:

  • Condition 1: The facility Owner shall report on the status of the currently planned 2022 upstream eel passage modifications and shakedown in the 2022 annual compliance statement; and shall report annually thereafter on any additional activities and consultation until upstream eel passage is determined by resource agencies to be effective.
  • Condition 2: The facility Owner shall report on the status of consultation, plans, and schedule for installation of downstream eel passage in annual compliance statements until downstream eel passage is installed and determined by resource agencies to be effective.

2022: No material changes or compliance issues were identified. The project remains in compliance based on the annual review.  For Condition 1, the project reported that eel upstream passage was installed in late 2020/ early 2021 and passed over 200 eels that season. Modifications based on the 2021 shakedown period are planned with more shakedown in 2022. For Condition 2, the project reported ongoing agency consultation on downstream eel passage.  Fall nighttime shutdowns have been proposed.

2021: Annual reporting for the current Certificate has not yet taken effect.

Certification History

January 25, 2022: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has issued a final decision on the recertification of the North Gorham Project. The 30-day appeal window closed on January 20, 2022 and no appeals were filed. Therefore, the decision to recertify the project is now final. The new term is April 27, 2021 through April 26, 2031, reflecting the extended terms for Certificates that became effective on January 1, 2022.

December 20, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has preliminarily approved the North Gorham Project for a new 5-year term of Low Impact Certification. This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented on the initial application during the 60-day comment period are eligible to file an appeal. Such appeal needs to include an explanation as to how the Project does not meet the LIHI criteria. Appeal requests can be submitted by email to with “North Gorham Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Ave, Office 407, Arlington, MA 02476. All requests will be posted to the website. The applicant will have an opportunity to respond and any response will also be posted. Requests must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on January 20, 2022. The full application and reviewer’s report are available below. If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project will be April 27, 2021 through April 26, 2026.

October 14, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has received a complete recertification application from Brookfield White Pine Hydro for the North Gorham Project located on the Presumpscot River in Maine. LIHI is seeking comment on this application. Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered. Comments may be submitted to LIHI by e-mail at with “North Gorham Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Office 407, Arlington, MA 02476. Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on December 13, 2021 to be considered. All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond. Any response will also be posted. The complete application can be found below.

November 22, 2016 – LIHI Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has issued a Preliminary Certification Decision that the North Gorham Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. P-2519) satisfies the LIHI Certification Criteria.  This Preliminary Certification Decision includes two facility-specific conditions, as follows:

  • Partially Satisfied 2021, modified and carried into the new LIHI term Condition 1; Within 90 days of LIHI certification, the Owner shall proactively initiate discussions with MDMR and USFWS regarding future construction of an upstream fish passage facility for American eel at the site and implementation of appropriate measures to facilitate safe downstream passage for American eel. The siting and design work on the upstream passage structures shall be initiated within the first two years of LIHI certification; construction and operation shall be completed as soon as practicable, but no later than the end of the five-year LIHI certification period. The facility shall be designed, sited, and constructed in consultation with and approval from the MDMR and USFWS. Within three years of the issuance of this certification, the downstream passage measures timeline shall be established in agreement with the resource agencies and a formal commitment for installation at a future date shall be made. If additional time is needed to accommodate required design activities, regulatory approval, or other extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the Owner, an extension may be requested (extension requested and granted December 18, 2019). The Owner shall provide LIHI with an annual report on the status of these actions, along with the plan, schedule and status of new fish passage implementation, as part of their annual compliance statement.
  • Deemed not needed in 2021 to maintain compliance in the new LIHI term Condition 2: The Owner shall proactively contact the MIF&W and USFWS a minimum of 60 days prior to any construction activities affecting lands not already developed or structures that may provide roosting habitat for the Northern Long-eared Bat, to determine if any special measures are needed to ensure no or minimal impact occurs to state and/or federally listed protected species identified as possibly occurring at the site. The MIF&W shall also be contacted within 60 days prior to any planned drawdown of the impoundment that would expose a significant portion of the river bottom, to avoid impacts to the Brook Floater. The Owner shall work with the MIF&W and USFWS to implement appropriate measures should they be needed. The Owner shall advise LIHI of any such events, including the results of any activities conducted to minimize such impacts. Such notification shall be provided as part of the annual compliance statement to LIHI.

As provided for in Section 4.2.5 of the LIHI 2nd Edition, the Preliminary Certification Decision to certify, along with the Application Reviewer’s report and (if prepared) report of the Executive Director, will be posted on the Institute’s Web page for 30 days.  Notice of the posting will be provided to all individuals or organizations that commented on the initial Application Package. Any Commenter may submit a letter to the Executive Director requesting an appeal within the 30-day period.  The appeal request must state specific reasons why the hydropower facility should have failed one or more criteria.  If an individual or organization did not comment on the initial Application Package, they may not file an appeal. If no appeal is requested within the 30-day period, the Executive Director will issue LIHI Certification for the facility and post a notification of certification on the Institute’s website.  Once final, the effective certification date for the North Gorham Project is April 27, 2016 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on April 27, 2021.

August 5, 2016 – On April 27, 2016, the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) received a complete application from Brookfield White Pine Hydro LLC  for the Low Impact Certification of the North Gorham Project, FERC P-2519, located on the Presumpscot River, 19.5 miles from head-of-tide at Smilt Hill Project, in Maine. LIHI is seeking public comment on this application.  Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the North Gorham project continues to meet the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s 2015 application materials posted on the project page.  Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered.  Comments may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at with “North Gorham Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, PO Box 194, Harrington Park, New Jersey 07640.  Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on October 7, 2016 to be considered.  All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond.  Any response will also be posted.

Certification Files

2021 Recertification

2016 Certification

Key Documents