The details of the 2012 legislative session are now coming into focus as the Legislature prepares for the start of the new session on January 4, 2012. Among the proposals that will confront the Legislature are two hydropower-related bills that will be considered by the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.
The first bill, LD 1686, An Act To Amend the Process for Issuing State Water Quality Certificates to Hydropower Projects That Withdraw Water from Great Ponds, is sponsored by Representative Ralph Sarty (R – Denmark). This bill would require the Department of Environmental Protection to consult with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Conservation before issuing a water quality certificate for hydropower projects that withdraw water from impoundments managed as great ponds. Significantly, in order for the DEP to issue a water quality certificate, DIFW and DOC would have to agree that the hydropower project does not violate water quality standards as they relate to fishing, recreation, and habitat for aquatic life.
Attorneys from Pierce Atwood have met with Representative Sarty regarding this proposal as it was being developed. Representative Sarty, who formerly worked for the Maine Warden Service, is very strong in his support for this bill and will certainly be a strong advocate for his proposal.
The second bill, An Act To Improve Maine’s Capacity To Produce Low-cost Renewable Energy, is sponsored by Representative Johnson (R – Greenville). This proposal, which has not yet been printed, has been summarized by the Legislative Information Office as follows: “This bill would prohibit the issuance of a permit to remove a dam from hydroelectric generating capacity unless there is a demonstrated replacement for the energy.”
As the Governor’s and the Legislature’s agendas come together for 2012, it is clear that energy will be one of the most discussed issues this legislative session. Obviously, hydropower will be an integral part of this discussion. If you have any questions or would like further information, or are interested in assisting us as we work to shape these bills, please contact Matt Manahan, John Delahanty, or Avery Day.