Goose River Hydro facilities under new management

By Ben Holbrook | Mar 13, 2013
Courtesy of: City of Belfast Two Maine Maritime Academy students purchased the former Goose River Hydro facilities and are looking to begin generating electricity at the facilities.

Belfast — During a meeting Tuesday, March 5, City Councilors granted “community-based renewable energy project” status to the new owners of Goose River Hydro, Inc., which allows the company to be granted a power purchase agreement from the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Goose River Hydro, Inc., is looking to upgrade the existing generation facilities and resume generating electricity through a power purchase agreement, while also benefiting from a new “feed-in” tariff for new power generation.

The “feed-in” tariff that Goose River Hydro, Inc., is looking to benefit from allows the company to get a better price for the power they generate — up to a maximum of $.10 per kilowatt-hour.

Before the company can be granted a power purchase agreement, the city needed to pass a resolution in support of community-based renewable energy. The resolution does not obligate the city to purchase electricity from Goose River Hydro, Inc.

Nicholas Cabral, who is a junior at Maine Maritime Academy studying to be an engineer, and one of the two new owners of Goose River Hydro, Inc., said his company needed a letter of support to begin the process of bringing the facility back online.

Nicholas Berner, who is also a student at Maine Maritime Academy, co-owns the facility with Cabral.

Goose River Hydro Company former owner Cathy and Larry Gleeson operated the dams from 1983 to 2009, when Larry died. Cathy offered the dams to the city for $125,000, despite their assessed value of $200,000. Councilors eventually allowed an option to purchase the dams expire after citing concerns with the cost of operating the facilities.

Cabral told The Republican Journal during an interview Thursday, March 7, that he and Berner approached Gleeson about potentially buying her facilities. At the time, Cabral said he and Berner were unable to commit to purchasing the dams and they figured the facilities would be purchased by another entity.

However, over the summer of 2012, Gleeson contacted Cabral and Berner again to see if they were still interested in purchasing the dams, Cabral said. Negotiations began in the fall before both parties closed on a deal on Feb. 14, 2013, Cabral said. In total, Cabral and Berner acquired five facilities from Gleeson.

He declined to comment on the terms of the deal.

Cabral acknowledged he and Berner were surprised they had a second chance to purchase the dams because of the number of offers that Gleeson received.

“There was some serious money out there,” Cabral said in reference to the offers for the dams.

An assessment of the former Goose River Hydro facility determined the facilities would generate up to 1.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. City Manager Joseph Slocum told councilors in July of 2012 that equipment at the dams would need to be upgraded, which could cost between $250,000 and $400,000.

At the time, Slocum said the revenue generated by the facility would pay for the upgrades in three to five years.

Cabral said he and his partner would like to get Mason Dam — located just south of Swan Lake — running by the end of April. He said that facility is capable of generating about 90 kilowatt-hours.

Within the next two years, Cabral said the goal is to have facilities generating about 120 to 130 kilowatt-hours. The license granted to Cabral and Berner allows them to generate up to 375 kilowatt-hours, Cabral said. Their license expires in 2020 and Cabral said he and Berner would have to begin the process of getting re-licensed beginning in 2015.

While Cabral admitted owning and operating a business while still attending school as a full-time student can be a daunting task, he said people shouldn’t be afraid to pursue their dreams.

Cabral also praised Gleeson and Kittredge for their help with purchasing the hydroelectric facilities.

Besides Cabral and Berner, one of the entities interested in purchasing the dams was a Portland-based energy company.

Union Atlantic Hydro LLC, filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a license transfer in June of 2012 after expressing an interest in purchasing the dams from the Gleeson’s.

Kittredge explained to councilors that even if the city grants the “community-based renewable energy project” status to Goose River Hydro, Inc., it would not prevent the city from granting the same status to another project.

Councilor Mike Hurley commended Cabral for being a full-time student and business owner.

“I think it’s great,” Hurley said of Cabral being a student and business owner.

The request to grant “community-based renewable energy project” status to Goose River Hydro, Inc., was approved unanimously.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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