LIHI Certificate #163 – Deer Rips/Androscoggin No. 3 Projects, Maine

The Gulf Island – Deer Rips Project is located on the Androscoggin River in Lewiston and Auburn, Maine. The project consists of two developments: Gulf Island and Deer Rips / Androscoggin No. 3 (A-3). Only Deer Rips and A-3 are included in the LIHI certification. There are numerous other hydroelectric projects upstream and downstream on the Androscoggin River in New Hampshire and Maine, many of which are LIHI Certified. The Deer Rips development was constructed from 1902-1904 and the A-3 development was constructed from 1927-1928. The Project is owned by Brookfield White Pine Hydro (Brookfield Renewable Energy Group).

The project includes: a dam, spillway, two powerhouses, power canal, and eight turbines.

The Deer Rips dam is a three-section structure, 933 feet long with a 738-foot-long spillway section and maximum height of 50 feet. The spillway is topped with a 4.5-foot-high rubber dam. The dam contains a headworks section of the Deer Rips powerhouse, located on the west side of the river. A 94-foot-long headworks section on the west side of the dam has a waste gate that discharges just below the dam and 8 other gates that lead to a 650-foot-long power canal. The canal creates a bypassed reach approximately 700 feet long. The Deer Rips powerhouse contains seven turbines: five horizontal twin-runner Francis units, and 2 vertical Francis units with a total installed capacity of 7.245 MW. A forebay on the east bank of the river leads to a headworks section of the Androscoggin No. 3 powerhouse which contains a single vertical fixed blade propeller unit with an installed capacity of 4.5 MW.

The project operates in run-of-river mode with a 130-acre impoundment that extends about 1.3 miles upstream to the Gulf Island development. The impoundment level is maintained within 1 foot of the dam crest. Minimum flows requirements are seasonal: 1,700 cfs from May 1 through November 30 and 1,400 cfs from December 1 through April 30. This flow regime was developed based on instream flow studies conducted in collaboration with USFWS and Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP).

Waters within the project reach are designated Class C waters, managed for aquatic habitat, primary and secondary recreation, and drinking water after treatment. The Androscoggin River has historically faced severe degradation issues due to industrial wastewater discharges. It was this highly polluted river that provided the inspiration for the drafting of the Clean Water Act in 1972. The river is designated as impaired for PCBs and dioxins from legacy pollutants, as well as mercury from atmospheric deposition. Dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations are of particular concern in the project vicinity. However, MDEP has confirmed that the project is not responsible for DO impairments in the river.

Project Name Deer Rips /  Androscoggin No. 3
LIHI Certificate No. 163
LIHI Certificate Term June 17, 2019 - June 16, 2024
Owner Brookfield White Pine Hydro LLC
State Maine
Location 3.71 miles above Little Androscoggin River, Androscoggin River mile 33.7 (as measured from Brick Island)
Installed Capacity Total: 11.75 MW Deer Rips: 7.245 MW A-3: 4.5 MW
Average Annual Generation Total: 66,346 MWh Deer Rips: 36,879 MWh A-3: 29,467 MWh
Facility Type Run of river
FERC No. P-2283 issued 2006, expires 2048 (part of the Gulf Island Deer Rips Project)

Historically, the Androscoggin River supported many migratory fish species including American shad, river herring, and Atlantic salmon. The upstream reach of herring and shad was the downstream Lewiston Falls and the upstream reach for Atlantic salmon was the upstream Rumford Falls. These species were historically very abundant in the river prior to construction of dams starting in 1807. These dams now preclude access for passage at the project and have extirpated these species from the river. Resident river species include both warm-water and cold-water species including large and smallmouth bass, white and yellow perch, pickerel, northern pike, brown bullhead, and various shiner species.

The project lands consist of 107 acres. Land use surrounding the project is almost entirely undeveloped, forested shoreline. A 2011 wildlife habitat assessment report prepared by the project owner noted that riparian wildlife habitat along the shoreline was in good condition and had not been widely impacted by development. Additionally, the project operates under a land/trail management plan which included a provision for a land survey of a 200-foot boundary of the project reservoirs to assess wildlife habitat. The survey found no evidence of significant risk of damage to essential wildlife habitat.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include the Northern Long-eared bat, Little brown bat, Eastern small footed bat, and small whorled pogonia. No critical habitats for the listed species are associated with the project. Vegetation removal at the project is limited to mowing and brush management, not likely to impact bat populations. Upland forest habitat for the small whorled pogonia is not present in the project boundary. The project owner contributes to local raptor rehabilitation efforts in lieu of bald eagle monitoring. This arrangement was agreed upon with support from Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and USFWS.

The project is included in a programmatic agreement between FERC, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the Maine State Historic Preservation Office for management of historic structures and sites impacted by ten hydroelectric projects under the same ownership. thirty-eight boxes of artifacts were recovered from within the project boundary and transferred to the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine. There are also several sites eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

Recreation opportunities consist mainly of boating and fishing with an informal carry-in boat launch, canoe portage trail, a roadside parking area, and a fishing access point associated with the Gulf Island development. Public access is provided free of charge.


Certification History

September 27, 2019:  The decision to certify the Deer Rips/Androscoggin No. 3 project is final.  No appeal requests were received during the appeals period that closed September 26, 2019.  The project is LIHI #163 with a term from June 17, 2019 – June 16, 2024.

August 27, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification for the Deer Rips/Androscoggin No. 3 Hydroelectric Project.

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 comments@lowimpacthydro.org with “Deer Rips Hydroelectric Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420. 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 September 26, 2019.  The full application and reviewers report are available below.

If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project (pending LIHI #163) will be June 17, 2019 for a term of five (5) years, which will expire on June 16, 2024.

June 18, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Certification of the Deer Rips – Androscoggin No. 3 Hydroelectric Project.  LIHI is seeking public comment on this application.  Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Project meets the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria, as revised in the 2nd Edition Handbook.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s application materials below.

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 comments@lowimpacthydro.org with “Deer Rips – Androscoggin No. 3 Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420.  Comments must be received on or before 5 pm Eastern time on August 17, 2019 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.