|The lower Penobscot River seen from Fort Knox in |
Prospect, about 25 miles downstream from the
dams to be removed.
Dam removal and fish passage installation come at a cost. To make the deal possible, the Trust raised almost $10 million in private funds from donors. The Trust married those funds with about $15 million in federal grant money in order to purchase the three dams from PPL. (In 2009, PPL sold off most of its other Maine holdings to Black Bear Hydro Partners, LLC. As authorized by the settlement agreement, Black Bear Hydro is increasing the hydroelectric production capacity of other dams on the system, including the recently repowered Orono Dam.) Another $25 million is projected to be needed for the actual dam removal and fish passage projects.
Now that the dams have changed hands, the removal of the Veazie and Great Works dams may occur as early as 2011. As the dams come down, the Trust is hoping that fish migration routes and recreational opportunities will increase, and outweigh the societal costs of the loss of the dams' hydroelectric capacity - especially here, where an agreement to allow increased production upstream will offset these losses.