LIHI Certificate #59 - Rice Rips Project, Maine

The Rice Rips Hydroelectric facility is located on Messalonskee stream in Oakland, Maine. The Rice Rips project is the one of four hydropower facilities between Messalonskee Lake dam and the Kennebec River. Three of these facilities, Rice Rips, Union Gas, and Oakland, are currently licensed under FERC project No. 2556. The Rice Rips facility is approximately 6.3 miles upstream from the confluence of Messalonskee Stream with main stem of the Kennebec River. The Rice Rips project is located upstream of the Automatic hydropower dam, which is currently owned and licensed separately from the three other hydropower dams on Messalonskee Stream. The Automatic facility is located approximately 4.5 miles downstream from the Rice Rips facility. The Rice Rips impoundment stretches upstream approximately 1.6 miles to the tail race of the Oakland facility, which is the nexthydropower facility upstream and the last of four on Messalonskee stream. The extent of the Rice Rips impoundment effectively results in impacts to the entire length of stream between the Rice Rips and Oakland facilities.

The facility is comprised of a 220 foot-long dam that is 31 feet high with 5 foot flashboards. The facility penstock is 2,293 feet long, resulting in a 2,400 foot bypass reach that leads to a powerhouse containing a 1.6 MW generator that produces an average annual generating capacity of 5.6 GWh. The Rice Rips facility impoundment has a gross storage capacity of 1,000 acre-feet.

Operation of the Rice Rips Facility is dependent on inflow to Messalonskee Lake and discharge from the upstream Oakland Hydroelectric project. When inflow to Messalonskee Lake is greater than approximately 570 cfs, the Rice Rips project is operated as a run-of-river project. When inflow is less than approximately 570 cfs the project is cycled. 15 cfs is discharged at all times through the Rice Rips bypass. All additional water that does not go through the turbines is passed first through a minimum flow discharge gate set to discharge 15 cfs and then surplus water is discharged over the spillway. MSH utilizes the top 0.5 feet of Messalonskee Lake as storage for generation during the summer months (1.0 foot during the winter months). The applicant only utilizes the top 0.5 feet because the lake is regulated and operated for recreational purposes. During the summer months, if the lake level is reduced by more than 0.5 feet camp owners on the lake complain because of the effect on their docks. The top 0.5 feet of lake provides roughly 1,500 acre-feet of storage.

Project Name Rice Rips
LIHI Certificate No. 59
LIHI Certificate Term May 9, 2015 - May 9, 2020, extended to July 31, 2021
Owner Messalonskee Stream Hydro Associates
State Maine
Location Located at river mile 7.7 on the Messalonskee Stream, a tributary of the Kennebec River, in Kennebec County, Maine.
Installed Capacity 1.6 MW
Average Annual Generation 5,600 MWh
Facility Type Inflow > 570 cfs: run-of-river Inflow < 570 cfs: cycled
FERC No. P-2556 issued 1999, expires 2036

Certification History

May 2, 2016: LIHI Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has certified that the Rice Rips Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. P-2556) satisfies the LIHI Certification Criteria. A Preliminary Decision was announced on April 1, 2016, and a 30-day appeal period was open through May 1, 2016. No requests for appeal were received. This Certification Decision includes one facility-specific condition, as follows:

  • Condition 1:On the Owner’s Annual Compliance Statements, the Owner will update LIHI on the status of downstream eel passage at the site. The Owner will notify LIHI within 45 days of when DMR determines there is a sufficient number of eel to present in the river to conduct the studies needed to determine the best location to install downstream passage. A summary of those study results, along with a DMR approved plan and schedule for downstream eel passage installation, shall be included in that year’s Annual Compliance Statement.

The effective certification date for the Rice Rips Project is May 9, 2015 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on May 9, 2020.

December 4, 2015: LIHI has received a comment letter from the Maine Department of Marine Resources in support of the recertification of the Rice Rips project. The comment may be found in the Files section below.

November 24, 2015: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for a new term of Low Impact Certification for the Rice Rips Hydroelectric project.  The application materials can be found in the Files section below.

The public comment period for this application closed on January 23, 2015.

June 19, 2015: The Rice Rips Project has been granted an extension of the current certificate term. The new expiration date is December 31, 2015. See ExtensionLetter_2015Recert for explanation below.

October 22, 2010: The Rice Rips Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective May 9, 2010 and expiring May 9, 2015.

July 9, 2010: The public comment period for the application for certification has been closed.

May 9, 2010: Messalonskee Stream Hydro Associates has submitted an application for certification of the Rice Rips Hydroelectric Project. A public comment period will remain open for 60 days.