US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District Website Website

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

Published Feb. 26, 2015
Updated: April 3, 2020
Purpose

Licensing of a privately-owned hydropower project on federal property.

Location

The project is proposed to be located at Upper St. Anthony Falls lock and dam, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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 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. 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 would be located behind the upper guide wall of Upper St. Anthony Falls lock. The proposed project would draw up to 1,000 cubic feet per second of flow from the river when in full operation. River conditions would allow the project to operate approximately 60 percent of the time.

Status

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a draft environmental assessment on September 2, 2016. The licensee has been developing a programmatic agreement for the protection of historic properties. The licensee is facing challenges related to public acceptance of the project, competing recreational visions for the area, restrictions in working around the James J. Hill historic Stone Arch Bridge, and a current federal disposition study for the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock. As of February 2020, FERC had neither issued nor denied the license amendment. 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.

Funding

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.