LIHI Certificate #38 - Rumford Falls Project, Maine

The Rumford Falls Project is located on the Androscoggin River in the town of Rumford, in Oxford County, Maine. The project was initially constructed between 1918 and 1955 to harness the power of Rumford Falls to produce paper products.

The project includes two developments:

  • Upper Station: The concrete gravity dam is 464 feet long by 37 feet high with an ogee type spillway section topped with 2.5-foot-high, pin-supported, wooden flashboards. The forebay is about 2,300 feet long by 150 feet wide. The gatehouse has eight headgates, (two headgates for each of the four penstocks), trashracks, and other equipment. The four underground steel-plate penstocks are each about 110 feet long, three of which are 12 feet in diameter, and one 13 feet in diameter. The masonry powerhouse is integral to the dam, occupying two adjoining sections of the dam: The Old Station is equipped with one horizontal generating unit and the New Station is equipped with three vertical generating units. Total installed capacity is 29.3 MW. The dam impounds a 419-acre reservoir and creates a bypass reach approximately 600 feet long.
  • Lower Station: The rock-filled, wooden-cribbed, and concrete-capped Middle Dam is 328.6 feet long by 20 feet high with a gravity spillway section topped with 1.0-foot-high pin-supported wooden flashboards. The dam creates a 21-acre reservoir and a bypass reach approximately 3,500 feet long. The Middle Canal concrete headgate structure, located adjacent to the dam, is about 120 feet long, with 10 steel headgates. A waste weir section perpendicular to the headgate structure is about 120 feet long, topped with 10-inch-high flashboards. The Middle Canal is roughly 2,400 feet long, with width ranging from 75 to 175 feet, and depth from 8 to 11 feet. The gatehouse contains two headgates, trashracks, and other equipment. Two 12-foot-diameter, steel-plate penstock each extend about 815 feet to two cylindrical surge tanks, each about 36 feet in diameter by 50.5 feet high. The penstocks continue 77 feet to the powerhouse. The masonry powerhouse is equipped with two identical vertical units with a combined capacity of 15.2 MW.
Project Name Rumford Falls
LIHI Certificate No. 38
LIHI Certificate Term December 10, 2018 - December 9, 2023
Owner Brookfield Renewable Energy Group
State Maine
Location Located between river mile 90.7 and 90.9 on the Androscoggin River in the town of Rumford, in Oxford County, Maine.
Installed Capacity Total: 44.5 MW Upper Station: 29.3 MW Lower Station: 15.2 MW
Average Annual Generation Total: 291,537 MWh Upper Station: 182,562 MWh Lower Station: 108,975 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-2333 issued 1994, expires 2024

The project operates in a run-of-river mode for the protection of water quality and aquatic habitat. Water levels in the upper and middle impoundments are maintained within 1.0 foot of full pond elevation. The project provides a minimum flow of 1,034 cfs below the lower dam. This flow regime was developed with consultation from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Waters within the project reach are designated as Class C and impaired for PCBs and dioxins caused by legacy pollutants, and mercury from atmospheric deposition. Maine Department of Environmental Protection concluded that the project is not negatively impacting the water quality of the river. The Androscoggin River has historically been severely degraded by industrial wastewater discharges and was the impetus for the initial drafting of the Clean Water Act of 1972 by Senator Edmund Muskie.

Historically, Rumford Falls was the natural extent of migratory fish runs in the Androscoggin River. The natural falls at the site precluded access further upstream for Atlantic salmon and other species. Migratory species have been extirpated from the river due to the construction of numerous dams built along the river. Restoration of migratory species is in progress in lower sections of the river with installation of fish passage facilities, including at Worumbo (LIHI #10). Resident fish species include warm water species: chain pickerel, golden shiner, fallfish, white sucker, pumpkinseed, and yellow perch.

The project lands are limited due to the urban environment directly surrounding the project. Some farmland and cleared land exist surrounding the reservoir and short stretches of woodlands line the reservoir. No lands of significant ecological value are under project ownership.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include the Northern long-eared bat. The project owner does not engage in any tree clearing or corridor maintenance activities on project lands, thus limiting any potential for impact on roosting sites for the species.

The Upper Station development houses eight prehistoric archaeological sites which are monitored under provisions contained in the project’s cultural resources management plan. Any land disturbing work must be cleared with the State Historic Preservation Office before commencement.

Recreational resources at the project include fishing and boating access. Boat launches are located on the north shore and a canoe portage allows car-top boating access. Public access is provided free of charge where safe.


Certification History

June 24, 2019: The decision to recertify the Rumford Falls Hydroelectric Project is final. No appeals were received during the appeal period which closed on June 20, 2019. The new certification term for the Project is from December 10, 2018 through December 9, 2023.

May 21, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification for the Rumford Falls 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 “Rumford Falls 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 June 20, 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  will be December 10, 2018 through December 9, 2023.

March 13, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Recertification of the Rumford Falls 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 “Rumford Falls 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 May 12, 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.

November 18, 2014:  Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has determined that the Rumford Falls Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 2333) continues to meet the LIHI Certification Criteria.  The effective date of the certificate is December 10, 2013, and the certificate will expire on December 10, 2018.

November 18, 2013: Brookfield Renewable Energy Group has submitted an application for a second term of certification of the Rumford Falls Hydroelectric Project. The application was received on October 30, 2013, but due to administrative backlog, the project was granted a two month extension beyond the current expiration date of December 10, 2013 to allow time for the complete review of the application.

May 6, 2009: The Rumford Falls Hydroelectric Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective December 10, 2008 and expiring December 10, 2013.