US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District

Projects

Hydropower, Crown Hydro, Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam

Published Feb. 26, 2015
Updated: March 21, 2019

 

Location/Description

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued license 11175 to Crown Hydro, LLC in 1999 granting it the rights to develop a hydropower facility in the Mill Ruins Park area on the Mississippi River near Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The project was originally proposed to be located in the Crown Roller Building and then on Minneapolis park land.  Crown Hydro was unable to secure the needed real estate agreements.  Crown Hydro submitted a draft license amendment to FERC in April 30, 2015, which proposed locating the project on federal property at Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam.  The proposed project consists of an operations building housing two 1.7-megawatt turbines installed below ground level, discharging into the Mississippi River via twin 16-foot diameter conduits.  The intake structure for the proposed hydropower plant is located behind the upper guide wall of Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam.  The project will draw up to 1,000 cubic feet per second of flow from the river when in full operation.  River conditions will allow the project to operate approximately 60 percent of the time. 

Background

Many parties are competing for use of the river flows at St. Anthony Falls, including the existing hydropower plant operated by Xcel Energy and other local recreational and tourism-related interests.  The proposed project is located in the St. Anthony Falls Historic District. 

Status

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a draft environmental assessment on September 2, 2016.  As of January 2019, FERC had not yet issued the license amendment.  The licensee has started developing a programmatic agreement for the protection of historic properties.  The licensee is facing additional challenges related to financing and restrictions on working around the James J. Hill historic Stone Arch Bridge.  If licensed, the licensee’s design must be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to starting construction.

Pertinent correspondence, filings and meeting transcripts are posted on the FERC eLibrary under docket number P-11175 (http://elibrary.ferc.gov).

Authority

Licensing by FERC of hydropower facilities is governed by Part I of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 791(a)–825(r).  Coordination between the FERC and the Corps regarding FERC licensing of hydropower at Corps facilities is also governed by a July 20, 2016 memorandum of agreement between the agencies.

Fiscal

A fixed amount, generally $7,000 per year, is funded under the “Investigations” account for FERC-related administrative activities and permit review.  More in-depth activities such as pre-licensing, coordination during construction and relicensing are funded under the “Operation and Maintenance” program.  These costs are reimbursed by the licensee to the U.S. Treasury through annual charges by FERC.