WINSLOW (AP) – The government is putting a six-month hold on a proposal by FPL Energy to remove its 95-year-old dam along the Sebasticook River in Winslow.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released a document Monday that calls for a closer look at alternatives to breaching the hydroelectric dam.

A 1998 agreement requires FPL Energy to provide fish passage in the dam by either a fish lift or dam removal.

FPL Energy has said it would rather surrender its federal license to generate power rather than build a fish lift.

It told the regulatory agency that it sees no affordable option to provide a permanent fish-passage system for the dam, estimating the cost of such a system at $3 million-$4 million.

FERC said in the document released Monday that it will not act on the application for license surrender at this time.

Instead, it directs FPL to initiate discussions with the other parties with an interest in the dam regarding fish passage alternatives that would allow continued operation.

The commission directs FPL Energy to provide a status report on discussions on alternatives within six months of July 28.

Species of fish that have been targeted for restoration and would benefit from a fish lift include American shad and Atlantic salmon, FERC said.

Winslow Town Manager Edward Gagnon greeted FERC’s order as good news.

“I think it is saying that, listen, one of the things that should be a consideration is that this is … good, clean renewable power. Why should we destroy it?” said Gagnon.

In 1999, the Edwards Dam, which blocked the Kennebec River downstream in Augusta for 162 years, was completely removed at FERC’s orders.

The removal was hailed by environmental and conservation advocates.

AP-ES-07-29-03 1045EDT

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