Electric power generated from Maine’s rivers provided an early source of energy for large pulp and paper companies and other sectors of the economy. Later oil fueled electric generation emerged, followed in the mid-20th century by nuclear power. Later still in that century, biomass (primarily wood) generators were added to the mix. The early 21st century saw the beginning of wind power “farms” and tax incentives for solar power installations.
Northern Aroostook Dam Proposals
A series of major hydro-electric power proposals have been advanced for rivers in northern Maine. Some were linked to various versions of tidal power projects proposed for Passamaquoddy Bay in eastern Maine. None were ever constructed, but all provided a substantial amount of political controversy.
Dams at Cross Rock and at Rankin Rapids on the St. John River were early candidates. The Dickey-Lincoln proposal dragged on for about 20 years before it essentially ended in 1985. Although it would not have flooded the Allagash area as other private projects would have, Dickey was a “public power” project involving appropriations from the U.S. Congress and opposition from private power companies.
People concerned about the impact on the environment opposed all these projects, though funding and political considerations also combined to defeat them. The furbish lousewort plant, discovered a century earlier by Catherine “Kate” Furbish, helped stall and eventually stop the Dickey-Lincoln proposal.
Both Maine U.S. Senators, Democrats Edmund S. Muskie and William D. Hathaway, favored the Dickey-Lincoln project in the 1970’s. Republicans, opposing government sponsored public power projects, fought against this project.
Other Generating Options
- A biomass wood to energy facility is located in Fort Fairfield.
- A wood pellet factory is located in Corinth.
Acres American Incorporated. Dickey-Lincoln School Lakes Project Economic Analysis Study. Waltham, Mass. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England Division. 1981.
Charles T. Main, Inc. Comments on Proposed Power Project at Cross Rock Rapids, Saint John River, Maine. Boston. 1963. (for Electric Council of New England)
Citizens Committee for the Maine Power Authority. Maine Power Authority Plan: Grand Allagash Lake, Fishery Management and Fishing potential. The Committee. 1964?
Dexter, Forrest P. Citizens Dickey-Lincoln Project Impact Review Committee final Summary report. 1978.
Dickey-Lincoln School Lakes, Maine: Geotechnical Design Factors. Waltham, Mass. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England Division. 1975?.
Fact Sheet: Dickey-Lincoln School Lakes, Maine. Waltham, Mass. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England Division. 197?.
Maine and Valley Traditional Values: Final Report. Madawaska Project BRAVE. 1974. (Sponsored by Project BRAVE, Title VII under the auspices of Maine Humanities Council.)
Richards, Charles D. Report on Rare and Unusual Plant Species within the Dickey-Lincoln School Lakes Project Area. Waltham, Mass. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England Division. 1977.
Report of the Citizens’ Dickey-Lincoln Project Impact Review Committee to Governor James B. Longley. Farmington, Me. University of Maine at Farmington, 1977.
Rolde, Neil. Maine: A Narrative History. Gardiner. Harpswell Press. 1990. pp.329-333.
Sanger, David. Cultural Resource Management in the Dickey-Lincoln School Reservoir, Maine: Report. 1977. (Orono, Me. University of Maine)
United States. Department of Energy. Dickey-Lincoln School Lakes Transmission Project: Draft environmental Impact Statement. Bangor, Me. 1978.