Dams Information

Links to documentation provided to the Town of Kennebunk regarding the dams is posted to the right under "Quick Links."

History of the Dams and Licensing

The Kennebunk Light & Power District provides the following history regarding the three dams in Kennebunk: the Kesslen, Twine Mill and Dane Perkins dams: 

In the mid 1800s, the Kesslen Shoe Factory was the largest employer in the Town of Kennebunk. Located in the heart of downtown beside the Mousam River, the factory obtained the power to operate pulleys and conveyor belts from a water wheel powered by the river. In 1893, the Town purchased the turbine rights at the Kesslen Shoe Factory. This purchase provided the necessary cash flow for the shoe factory to remain in business and started the quasi-municipally owned electric light department.

In 1951, the residents of Kennebunk approved the charter for the Kennebunk Light & Power District to be formed under a special and private act of the State Legislature. At this time the electric light department of the Town was eliminated and the Kennebunk Light & Power District, independent of town funds and leadership was established. 
Over the years, the Kennebunk Light & Power District acquired two more factory sites on the river that had timber and dirt dams and water powered turbines. In the mid 1980s the District updated the Kesslen turbine and dam, removed and replaced both dams at the other sites - Twine Mill and Dane Perkins - and upgraded the turbines at those sites. The three dams were licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to Kennebunk Light & Power District. That license expires in March of 2022.
Re-licensing is a complicated process. FERC requires a Notice of Intent to be filed five years before the expiration date of the license. In order to prepare for the Notice of Intent filing, the District went through a process of analyzing and evaluating the condition and value of the dams and turbines. Kennebunk Light & Power District keeps archives of videoshydro facilities reports, and hydro production reports to help inform citizens on the issues facing the District and the process the District has gone through thus far. 

In June of 2016, the District's Board of Trustees voted unanimously to notify FERC that it will surrender its licenses for the Twine Mill, Dane Perkins and Kesslen dams when they expire in March of 2022. 

Town of Kennebunk's Involvement

Since Kennebunk Light & Power's announcement that the District would not pursue the re-licensing of the dams, the Town has been gathering information and exploring options regarding the Town's potential role in the future of the three dams. On July 20, 2017, the Board of Selectmen held a workshop to hear a presentation by attorneys from Verrill Dana. There were four options presented at that meeting, one of which was to conduct an independent peer review of an engineering report done on the dams in late 2015 by Wright-Pierce, which was later updated in May of 2016. On July 21, 2017 the Board of Selectmen held a Special Meeting where they decided not to file a Notice of Intent with FERC and at subsequent meetings in August and September, voted to appropriate not more than $14,000 for a study to be completed by Kleinschmidt Associates to assess the costs associated with removal and retention of the dams without power generation. 

In September of 2017 two Notice of Intent (NOI) and Pre-application Document (PAD) packages were submitted to FERC, including one submitted on September 8th by Save the Mousam Keep the Kennebunk Dams LLC, and one submitted on September 12th (one day after the FERC filing deadline), by America First Hydro of Scarsdale, New York. 

In November of 2017, FERC representatives held two scoping meetings to assist in preparing an environmental assessment, to be used by the Commission to determine whether, and under what conditions, to issue a license for the project. 

In December of 2017, FERC conducted an Environmental Site Review for the Lower Mousam Project at the site of the Kesslen Dam on Berry Court (next to and behind the Lafayette Center at the corner of Main and Storer Streets).  

The public can access FERC's e-Library for the most up-to-date information regarding their process. Search by Docket Number P-14856* to view all files related to the Kennebunk dams.