March 24, 2017: On March 13, 2017, LIHI issued a Preliminary Certification Decision that the Orono Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 2710) continues to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria. The Orono certification includes the following conditions:

Condition 1. The Owner shall notify LIHI within 30 days of receipt of USFWS certification of the upstream and downstream anadromous fish and eel passage facilities as required by the Lower Penobscot River Multiparty Settlement Agreement. This certification requires affirmation that: a) the facilities were designed and installed as prescribed, b) the facilities are ready for routine operation as evidenced by approved Operating Manuals and electronic data collection systems, and c) one year of testing and any required “fine tuning” has been completed. It is assumed that certification of the fish lift indicates that the capacity concerns have been resolved. If such USFWS certification is not received by the end of 2017, the Owner shall provide LIHI documentation as to why the certification has not been received and the plan and schedule to remedy deficiencies identified by USFWS preventing such certification.

Condition 2. If the requirement for re-initiation of quantitative studies of downstream passage of juvenile and adult alosine species occurs within this LIHI certification period, the Owner shall notify LIHI within 60 days of receipt of such study re-initiation. This notification shall include the study schedule including the expected report issuance date. A copy of the final report, along with agency statement as to whether the testing results prove that safe downstream passage has been demonstrated, shall be provided to LIHI within 60 days of issuance of the final report.

Condition 3. The Owner shall notify LIHI within 60 days of receipt of USFWS, NMFS and MDMR acknowledgement that the standards specified in the Biological Opinion for safe downstream passage of Atlantic salmon have been met. Currently, effectiveness testing could be completed by 2018 based on the three-year testing requirement, unless advancement to a higher enhancement sequence is found to be necessary. Should this occur, the Owner shall notify LIHI in the annual compliance report as to the new date by which such continuing testing to meet passage standards is expected to be completed.

Condition 4. The Owner shall provide LIHI with a summary of the results of the 2016 quantitative downstream effectiveness study for American eel, along with any comments received from USFWS, NMFS and Maine Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) as to whether the testing results prove that safe downstream passage for American eel has been demonstrated. Also, the Owner shall provide a summary of the annual American eel upstream passage results, along with confirmation that any changes to the passage facilities recommended by the resource agencies have been, or are scheduled for implementation. The noted upstream and downstream passage results shall be provided within 60 days of report finalization.

Condition 5. The Owner shall provide LIHI a summary of the results the 2017 survey for Hyssopleaved fleabane, a state-listed species of Special Concern, as required by the Sensitive Species Protection Plan. This summary shall be provided within 60 days of its finalization, following review and comment by the Maine Natural Areas Program and New England Wild Flower Society.

This application was processed under the 2014 edition of the LIHI Handbook because the application materials were received prior to 2016. As provided for in Section 2.14 of the LIHI 2014 Edition Handbook, the Preliminary Certification Decision, along with the Application Reviewer’s report and (if prepared) report of the Executive Director, will be posted on the Institute’s web page for 30 days. Notice of the posting will be provided to all individuals or organizations that commented on the initial Application Package.

Any Commenter may submit a letter to the Executive Director requesting an appeal within the 30-day period.  The appeal request must state specific reasons why the hydropower facility should have failed one or more criteria.  If an individual or organization did not comment on the initial Application Package, they may not file an appeal.  Further information about the LIHI appeal process is available in the LIHI Handbook, available HERE.

If no appeal is requested within the 30-day period, the Executive Director will issue LIHI Certification for the facility and post a notification of certification on the Institute’s website.  Once final, the effective certification date for the Orono Project is June 1, 2015 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on June 1, 2020.