LIHI Certificate #140 – Little Falls Project, Maine

On the Presumpscot River there are eight hydroelectric facilities between Sebago Lake and the Atlantic Ocean in Portland, Maine. The Little Falls project is the fifth hydro project downstream of the Sebago Lake outlet.

Several mills have existed at the Little Falls site since the early 19th century. C.A. Brown and Company purchased the site in 1875 and constructed a wood board mill. Later, in the early 1900s, the Androscoggin Pulp and Paper mill purchased the property. In the 1950s, the site was not in use. Although Central Maine Power Company (CMP) owned the power rights, they did not operate it. Mr. Lawrence Keddy purchased the site in the 1960s and used the power in his nearby steel mill. S.D. Warren purchased the site in 1974, later renamed Sappi North America, Inc.

The Little Falls Project operates in a run-of-river mode and consists of the following features:

  • 331-foot-long, 14- foot-high, reinforced concrete and masonry dam incorporating a 160-foot-long spillway section, 101.5-foot-long spillway and sluice gate section, and a 70.5-foot-long intake structure;
  • 7-mile-long impoundment extending from the Little falls dam upstream to the Gambo dam, with a surface area of approximately 29 acres at normal headpond elevation of 108.7 feet USGS;
  • 25-foot-wide by 95-foot-long masonry powerhouse which is integral to the dam;
  • four vertical Francis turbines direct-connected to generators, each with an installed capacity of 250 kW for a total Project installed capacity of 1,000 kW and a reported annual generation of 4,200 MWh
  • a 300-foot-long bypass reach between the dam and the powerhouse tailwaters;
  • an upstream passage for American eel; and
  • a reported average annual flow at the dam of 925 cubic feet per second (cfs).
Project Name Little Falls
LIHI Certificate No. 140
LIHI Certificate Term September 5, 2017 - September 4, 2022
Owner Sappi North America, Inc.
State Maine
Location Windham and Gorham, Cumberland Counties River mile 16.9 Presumpscot River
Installed Capacity 1.0 MW
Average Annual Generation 4,200 MWH
Facility Type run-of-river
FERC No. P-2941 issued 2003, expires 2053

Certification History

March 5, 2018 – The 30-day appeal window closed for the preliminary certification decision of the Little Falls Hydroelectric Project closed on March 1, 2018 with no appeals to the decision received. The decision is therefore final and Little Falls is LIHI Certificate #140. The Certification term will be September 5, 2017 – September 4, 2022. The certificate includes the following condition:

  • Condition 1. The Owner shall update LIHI on the following activities in the annual LIHI compliance statement:
    1. The status of the effectiveness testing of downstream passage of eels.
    2. The status of upstream and downstream anadromous fish passage activities at the Project and at the Saccarappa Project. The updates should include summaries of agency and stakeholder consultation and recommendations made, any changes in the fish passage plans from those described in the LIHI application, and any changes in passage requirements or the timing of implementation at both Projects. LIHI reserves the right to suspend its certification if the agencies do not determine that safe passage at the Project is being provided and that such passage needs have not been waived.
    3. A summary of any consultation with MIF&W and/or USFWS related to state or federally listed species identified as possibly occurring at the site that could be impacted by construction activities or non-routine operations or maintenance activities. This would also include impoundment drawdowns that would expose a significant portion of the river bottom, among other non-routine activities. A summary of the relevant triggering activities and the measures implemented during the year to protect such species shall also be provided.
    4. The status of completion of the outstanding portage take-out/put-in or a viable alternative. A copy of FERC’s acceptance of the December 2017 request for extension of time, and FERC’s subsequent acceptance of the completed facility shall also be provided when it becomes available.

January 30, 2018 – On January 24, 2018, the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification for the Little Falls project. This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented in the initial application 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 to comments@lowimpacthydro.orgRequests must be received by 5:00 pm Eastern time March 1, 2018.

September 7, 2017 – On September 7, 2017, the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) received a complete application from S.D. Warren Company d/b/a Sappi North America for the Low Impact Certification of the Little Falls Project, FERC No. P-2941.

LIHI is seeking comment on the Little Falls application for certification. 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 “Little Falls Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 2, Lexington, MA 02420.  Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on November 7, 2017 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.