LIHI Certificate #60 - Oakland Project, Maine

Project Name Oakland
LIHI Certificate No. 60
LIHI Certificate Term May 9, 2020 – May 8, 2033
Owner Messalonskee Stream Hydro Associates, a subsidiary of Essex Hydro Associates, LLC
State Maine
Location Located at river mile 9.8 on the Messalonskee Stream, a tributary of the Kennebec River, in Kennebec County, Maine.
Installed Capacity 2.8 MW
Average Annual Generation 10,187 MWh
Facility Type modified run-of-river
FERC No. P-2556 issued in 1999, expires 06/30/2036

The Oakland Project is located on Messalonskee Stream in Waterville, Maine. The project is the most upstream of four hydropower facilities between Messalonskee Lake dam and the Kennebec River. Three of the facilities, Union Gas (LHI #58), Rice Rips (LIHI #59), and Oakland are licensed together under FERC project No. 2556. The Automatic Project (LIHI #72) FERC No. 2555,  is located between Rice Rips and Union Gas. Oakland is situated between roughly one-half mile downstream of Messalonskee Lake Dam.

The Oakland project initially was developed in 1899 by attorney Harvey Eaton and engineer Walter Wyman, the founding partners of Central Maine Power Company (CMP), who constructed the Oakland Project and provided street lighting and service to about 100 customers in the village of Oakland, Maine.

Project works consist of a 115-foot-long, 14-foot-high dam with 4-foot-high flashboards; a 0.4-mile-long impoundment with a gross storage capacity of 50 acre-feet, a 446-foot-long penstock and a powerhouse containing one 2.8 MW vertical Francis turbine and generator. The dam creates a short 0.1-mile-long bypassed reach.

The project’s operational mode is dependent on inflow to Messalonskee Lake. When inflow to Messalonskee Lake is greater than approximately 570 cfs, the project is operated as a run-of-river project. All water that does not go through the turbines is passed over the spillway. When inflow is less than approximately 570 cfs, the project is cycled based on stored water that is released from Messalonskee Lake with a maximum impoundment drawdown of 1 foot. The project provides a minimum flow of 15 cfs into the bypass reach. This flow regime is based on recommendation from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) to assist in improving water quality in the river and protecting aquatic biota.

Waters within the project reach are designated as Class C, suitable for fishing, primary and secondary contact recreation, aquatic habitat, and drinking water supply after treatment. The minimum flow regime minimizes the effect of phosphorus loading to protect aquatic biota habitat. The phosphorus loading and subsequent issues with low dissolved oxygen concentrations are likely caused by effluent from the upstream Oakland Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Historically, there is little evidence detailing the presence of anadromous species in Messalonskee Stream. Additionally, there is limited rearing and spawning habitat upstream of the Messalonskee Stream projects.  The presence of a natural 40-ft high waterfall at the location of the present-day Oakland facility likely acted as a natural barrier to migratory species. American eel, a catadromous species, is the only migratory species present in the project area. In 2010, Messalonskee Stream projects began installation of upstream and downstream passage for American eel. These facilities were completed in 2018 and approved for permanent passage in 2019 by Maine Department of Marine Resources (MDMR).

PLUS-Standard: The project owner voluntarily provides nighttime shutdowns at all four of its projects on Messalonskee Stream for American eel downstream passage, from 6pm to 2 am between September 1 to October 30. MDMR is currently collaborating with the project owner to adjust the timing of these shutdowns to better protect the migrating species. This action constitutes a basin-wide redevelopment strategy both within Messalonskee Stream and within the larger Kennebec River watershed where restoration of the diadromous fishery began with the removal of Edwards Dam at the head-of-tide in 1999 and allowed fish access to about 17 miles of river to Waterville, upstream of the Messalonskee Stream confluence. The Maine DMR issued the Kennebec River Management Plan Diadromous Resources Amendment in 2020, which updated a prior 1993 plan. The amendment includes American eel for the first time, with a stated goal “to provide safe, timely, and effective upstream and downstream passage for American eel throughout its historically accessible habitat.”

The project lands consist of 12 acres. The 200-foot boundary zone extending around the eastern side of the impoundment is bordered by a steep gradient and is undeveloped. The western side of the impoundment is comprised of land occupied by residential houses. Run-of-river operations have minimal effect on shoreline erosion due to the predominantly granite and gravel substrates in the tailrace areas.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include Atlantic salmon, Northern long-eared bat and black tern. The project area does not provide any suitable habitat for the bat species. Waterfowl surveys of the project area concluded that project operations do not impact habitat or nesting practices for the black tern. The species has been observed nesting in the Messalonskee Lake impoundment. According to USFWS, providing passage for Atlantic salmon in the Messalonskee watershed is not desirable.

Several pre-contact period archaeological resources have been identified in the vicinity of the Messalonskee Stream projects. The project owner maintains a Cultural Resources Management Plan and periodically assesses any impacts on these resources with the assistance of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. The Commission concluded that project operations are not adversely impacting the resources in the area.

Recreational resources at the project include an ADA accessible fishing platform at Messalonskee Lake, three boat access areas, a recreational trail, and a carry-in area for boat access to Messalonskee Stream. Public access is provided free of charge.

Compliance Status

There are no facility-specific conditions in the current Certificate.

2024: No material changes or compliance issues were identified.  The project remains in compliance based on the annual review.  Nightly shutdowns during eel migration season continue.

2023: No material changes or compliance issues were identified.  The project remains in compliance based on the annual review.  Nightly shutdowns during eel migration season continue.

2022: No material changes or compliance issues were identified.  The project remains in compliance based on the annual review.  Nightly shutdowns during eel migration season continue.

2021: Annual reporting for the current Certificate has not yet taken effect. However, the project reported continuation of nighttime shutdowns from September 1 to October 30 for downstream passage of American eels.

Certification History

January 1, 2022: The LIHI Certificate term has been extended in accordance with Revision 2.05 of the LIHI 2nd Edition Certification Handbook issued January 1, 2022. Refer to the facility table above for the new term.

August 27, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has issued a final decision on the recertification of the Oakland Project. The 30-day appeal window closed on August 26, 2021 and no appeals were filed. Therefore, the decision to recertify the project is now final. The new term is May 9, 2020 through May 8, 2028.

July 27, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has preliminarily approved the Oakland Project for a new 8-year term of Low Impact Certification. 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 with “Oakland Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Ave, Office 407, Arlington, MA 02476. 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 August 26, 2021. The full applications and review reports are available below. If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project will be May 9, 2020 through May 8, 2028.

May 3, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has received a complete recertification application from Messalonskee Stream Hydro Associates for the Oakland Project. LIHI is seeking comment on the application. 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 LIHI by e-mail at with “Oakland Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Office 407, Arlington, MA 02476. Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on July 2, 2021 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. The application can be found below.

May 2, 2016: LIHI Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has certified that the Oakland 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:

  • Satisfied in 2020 Condition 1: On the Owner’s Annual Compliance Statements, the Owner will update LIHI on the status of upstream and downstream eel passage at the site. Unless determined to be impractical by DMR and the Owner, upstream passage shall be installed during the new certification period. The Owner will notify LIHI within 45 days when DMR determines there is a sufficient number of eel 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 Oakland Project is May 9, 2015 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on May 9, 2020.

November 2, 2015: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for a new term of Low Impact Certification for the Oakland Hydroelectric project.  The application materials can be found in the Files section below. The public comment period for this application closed on December 30, 2015.

June 19, 2015: The Oakland Hydroelectric project has been granted an extension of the current certificate term. The new expiration date is December 31, 2015.

October 22, 2010: The Oakland 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 Oakland Hydroelectric Project. A public comment period will remain open for 60 days.


2021 Recertification

2015 Recertification

2010 Certification

Key Documents