LIHI Certificate #173 - Sawmill Project, New Hampshire

The Sawmill Project is licensed to Great Lakes Hydro America, LLC (GLHA NH) and located in northern New Hampshire, Coos County and along an 11-mile reach of the Androscoggin River that stretches from the City of Berlin, south to the Town of Shelburne NH.

The Androscoggin River begins in northwestern Maine at Umbagog Lake, journeys through New Hampshire, then re-enters Maine near Bethel, eventually joining the Kennebec at Merrymeeting Bay. The Androscoggin River has over a 1,200-foot drop from its headwaters to the sea, with an average descent of 8-feet per mile. Inflow to the Projec is regulated by five large storage reservoirs at the headwaters of the Androscoggin River system: Lake Umbagog, Rangeley Lake, Mooselookmeguntic Lake, Richardson Lakes (Upper and Lower), and Aziscohos Lake.

The Project is operated as run of the river facility with agency-required minimum flows. There are no diadromous fish species in the upper Androscoggin River, therefore, fish passage facilities are not necessary nor have been requested or prescribed. Lands within the project boundaries are limited to those required for project operations and structures and project recreation facilities. The Projects have a FERC approved Recreation Plan in place. There are no documented endangered or threatened aquatic species in this reach of the Androscoggin River.

The Sawmill Project operates as a run-of-river facility to maintain the headpond as close to the normal surface elevation of elevation 1094.5 feet as possible through operation of the units and wastegates. GLHA provides a minimum flow into the approximately 550-foot-long bypassed reach of 12 cfs or inflow, whichever is less, through a notch in the dam crest plus leakage.

Project facilities include a 720-foot long dam with four sections: a wastegate section, non-overflow sections, a flashboard section with 11-foot high steel flashboards, and an integral powerhouse. On the east riverbank is a 4-foot-wide concrete retaining wall which extends approximately 80 feet downstream to the leading edge of a mill building. The wall retains the riverbank and separates the bypass reach from the canal that supplies process water to a paper mill. The canal extends approximately 360 feet to a steel penstock that carries water to the mills. The powerhouse contains four horizontal shaft synchronous generators with a combined installed capability is 3.17 MW. The four tube type, horizontal shaft turbines have a combined capacity of 2,750 cfs. Units 1 and 3 are Allis-Chalmers fixed blade propeller units with a capacity of 590 cfs. Units 2 and 4 are adjustable blade propeller units with a hydraulic capacity of 652 cfs.

Project Name Sawmill
LIHI Certificate No. 173
LIHI Certificate Term August 31, 2020 - August 30, 2025
Owner Great Lakes Hydro America, LLC (a subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable Energy Group)
State New Hampshire
Location River Mile 138.2 - Androscoggin River
Installed Capacity 3.17 MW
Average Annual Generation 15,899 MWh
Facility Type Run of river
FERC No. Sawmill P-2422

Issued in 1994, expiring July 31, 2024


Certification History

November 30, 2020: The decision to certify the Sawmill Project became final after the close of the appeals period on November 27, 2020 with no appeals filed. The Certification term is from August 31, 2020 – August 30, 2025. The Certificate includes the following conditions:

  • Condition 1: The facility Owner shall provide updates to LIHI on the ongoing status of Project relicensing, including studies, FERC filings, resource agency consultation, prescriptions and recommendations, and agency comments on study results. LIHI reserves the right to modify the Certificate or conditions based on the outcome of the relicensing.
  • Condition 2:The facility Owner shall provide updates to LIHI on the ongoing status of the Proposed Recreation Plan including efforts with the City of Berlin’s Riverwalk project.

October 27, 2020:The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification for the Sawmill, Cross Power, Upper Gorham, and Shelburne Hydroelectric Projects located on the Androscoggin River in New Hampshire.

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 for one or more of these projects can be submitted by email to comments@lowimpacthydro.org with “Androscoggin River-NH Projects” 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 November 27, 2020.

The full application and review report are available below. If no appeal requests are received the certification term for each project will be August 31, 2020 through August 30, 2025.

August 13, 2020: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Certification of the Sawmill, Cross Power, Upper Gorham and Shelburne Hydroelectric Projects located on the Androscoggin River in New Hampshire. LIHI is seeking public comment on this application. Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Projects meet the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria, as revised in the 2nd Edition Handbook. The application can be found 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 “Androscoggin River-NH 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 October 12, 2020 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.