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Woodland Pulp Offers Solution, Solicits Community Input on Forest City Dam

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Woodland Pulp LLC, Baileyville, Me., USA, this past week announced its offer to convey to any interested stakeholders, at no cost, ownership of the Forest City Dam and its associated land and water rights.

On Nov. 23, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a new 30 year license to Woodland Pulp. As acknowledged in the license itself, the cost to the company of operating the project is at least $6,000,000 more than the generation benefits the storage dam would provide. Further, the way the new license is structured requires considerable expenditures early in the life of the license, making more urgent the resolution of the project's ultimate disposition.

Woodland Pulp stated repeatedly to FERC and stakeholders involved in the relicensing process that it was willing to continue to own and operate the dam, including underwriting upkeep, maintenance, and safety, if the new license did not add additional operating costs and complexities to a project that already has negative economics to start with, but the new license nonetheless included numerous additional, and unnecessary, burdens.

"Let me make it perfectly clear that Woodland Pulp does not want those who live near or visit the lake, who enjoy the fishing, boating, and natural beauty of the area, to lose it," said Scott Beal, environmental manager for Woodland Pulp. "Those of us who work at Woodland also enjoy the natural beauty and benefits of the lake system behind the Forest City Dam. Woodland Pulp seeks a community-based solution that is fair and that, as much as possible, maintains what has been in place for decades."

That is why Woodland Pulp requested assistance from Congressman Bruce Poliquin last summer to introduce legislation that would exempt the Forest City Dam, among others, from FERC jurisdiction. With FERC's regulatory oversight eliminated, there would remain multiple other state, federal, and international agencies that could retain regulatory authority.

When it eventually became clear that Congressman Poliquin's legislation would not move forward, Woodland Pulp filed an application with FERC to surrender the dam license, necessitating removal of the dam gates, and lowering of the impoundment's water level. FERC announced last week that the application has been accepted for processing.

There have been many misrepresentations about the situation. For example, some have asserted that the solution is simple—all Woodland Pulp needs to do is set the dam gates at a certain level and leave them there. Others have asserted that the financial impact Woodland Pulp has communicated is not accurate.

Woodland Pulp's response to these misstatements is, first, that setting the gates at a static state is not workable, primarily for flood, stream flow safety, and dam stability reasons. Second, with respect to costs, there are many aspects of the new license that have not been quantified; so, in fact, the cost of operating the project under the new license would be greater than the $6,000,000 figure mentioned above.

Woodland Pulp reiterates its offer to transfer the dam to a new owner so that the lake system behind the Forest City dam would remain unchanged. 

Woodland Pulp, LLC is a partially-integrated, kraft pulp mill located on the St. Croix River in Baileyville. Co-located at the mill is its sister facility, St. Croix Tissue Inc., which operates two state-of-the-art machines manufacturing quality tissue. Located just 45 miles away from the deepest marine terminal on the U.S. eastern seaboard, the mill is well-connected to the global pulp-supply chain. 


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