The Mill School is now in its second year of operation at the mill and is fully enrolled, 20 children attending 3 days a week. Others use the school space from time to time as well.
The Lost Kitchen opened in June, 2014 and has been extremely popular. Interestingly Erin discovered at the last minute that Freedom still had laws on its books from the prohibition era which prohibit the serving of alcoholic beverages. As a result, Erin opened a wine store in the museum space in the foundation of the mill building where patrons can buy wine and beer to then take upstairs to consume with their dinner. The Lost Kitchen closed for a winter break after New Year's eve to give Erin a chance to work on her book.
The installation of our hydropower system has been delayed as Natel Energy has been refining the design of their turbine. We now expect the turbine to be installed early in the fall, after construction of the penstock (carrying flows into the turbine from the pond) and draft tube (carrying flows out of the turbine back into the stream). The re-designed turbine will be a 50 kW unit and should produce in excess of 70,000 kWh per year. The power will be used to run the mill and the excess will be sold on a net metering basis into the grid operated by Central Maine Power.
At that point we will be totally self-sufficient (except for propane used for the stove at The Lost Kitchen and to power a back-up generator). The heat pump which heats the building will be run by electricity generated from the turbine, and the water used in the heat pump comes directly from the pond above the dam, goes through the heat pump and then gets dumped, somewhat colder, into the stream below the building. Interestingly, I am told this is the only geothermal system in Maine using pond water. Cooling the water is deemed to be pollution under the Clean Water Act, but the amount of cooling that occurs in this system is so small compared to the flows that are unaffected that we fall well beneath the impact that is regulated.
There were two good articles about the Mill project this fall. One in Preservation Magazine and one in Maine Magazine.