Monthly Archives: November 2013

Crown Hydro Faces Tough Crowd at Public Meeting

The following article by Ben Johnson, dated November 26, 2013, was posted on the Downtown Journal’s website:

Crown Hydro faces tough crowd at public meeting

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Crown Hydro representatives field questions at a Nov. 26 meeting
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Promise of more details down the line fails to satisfy feisty audience

A frustrated crowd received few answers from Crown Hydro representatives at a public meeting held Nov. 26 to solicit feedback regarding the proposed hydroelectric facility.

After a short presentation, Richard Savelkoul, a St. Paul-based lawyer, and engineers from Wenck Engineering fielded questions on behalf of Crown Hydro for an hour and 15 minutes.

Before opening the floor to questions Savelkoul warned the audience that they “wouldn’t have all the answers, as this is an ongoing process,” but it was clear people were expecting more after nearly 15 years of planning, tweaking and studying where to put the hydropower plant.

“I just spent an hour or so wasting my time here…these people are not prepared, they shouldn’t be here, they shouldn’t have called the meeting and I suggest they have to have another one with some actual answers prior to any approval,” said one downtown resident.

After being repeatedly chastised for his vague answers and “I don’t know” responses, Savelkoul countered that the public meeting was set up to field public comment and questions, and that more answers would be coming further along the approval process.

The proposal and its concerns

Continue reading

Crown Hydro Offers Few Details on Hydropower Plant at St. Anthony Falls

The following article by Bill McAuliffe was published in the November 27, 2013 issue of the Star Tribune:

Crown Hydro offers few details on hydropower plant at St. Anthony Falls

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Company did say dry spillway could result when Mississippi flow slows.

Officials from Crown Hydro LLC, the company looking to build a hydropower plant at St. Anthony Falls, acknowledged in an informational meeting Tuesday that their project could effectively create a dry spillway during some nights of the year when the flow on the Mississippi River would be minimal.

Anita Tabb, commissioner for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which has fought the hydro proposal for more than a decade, called that a “scary” prospect and was one of dozens of residents and local officials at the meeting who faulted Crown Hydro for not being fully open about the potential impacts of its project.

“You’re not making any friends,” she said.

Rich Greenlee, an engineer for the project, tried to assure questioners that two tunnels could be built for the plant without undermining the Stone Arch Bridge, and that vibration from construction and eventual operations would be hardly noticeable.

However, Richard Savelkoul, an attorney for the project, repeatedly said he had few other details to offer questioners — even the project’s potential cost and Crown Hydro’s financial stability — because the project is being redesigned and its federal license application amended.

That left most of the roughly 50 people at the meeting — dubious when they arrived— frustrated and angry. One riverfront resident drew applause when, more than an hour into the meeting, he said, “We should all leave.” But few did.

A few praised the attempt for being a renewable energy producer. It would sell power to Xcel Energy and be partly financed by a state renewable energy fund. But others pointed out that Xcel and another company produce hydro power at two other sites along the downtown stretch of the river and that water diverted to the Crown Hydro plant would be water that’s not available to other proposed water-related redevelopment projects along the river.

Parks officials reiterated that the falls is now a key aesthetic feature in an area where, according to park board president John Erwin, $300 million of public money in recent decades has sparked $1.9 billion in private investment.

“Will people want to look at a dry piece of concrete?” Erwin asked. “I don’t think so.”

MPR: Proposed Hydro Plant Seen as Green Energy Source, Eyesore

The following written and audio reports by Matt Sepic were posted on MPR’s website on November 27, 2013

Proposed hydroelectric plant seen as green energy source, eyesore (feature audio): http://minnesota.publicradio.org/www_publicradio/tools/media_player/popup.php?name=minnesota/news/features/2013/11/27/131127_mprnews_hydroelectric_20131127_64

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — A Mississippi River hydroelectric plant could be a new green energy source for Minneapolis. It could also turn part of the river into a dry, concrete eyesore during the summer.

Those were two of the hopes and worries heard Tuesday at a public meeting over a plan to build a power plant: http://www.crownhydro.net/about.html near St. Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis.

The company, Crown Hydro LLC, hopes to start construction in about a year. The project, however, still needs the blessing of many government agencies, and many downtown residents remain skeptical.

Continue reading

Crown Hydro Meeting Report

Here is a brief description of yesterday’s Crown Hydro meeting.

Crown Hydro Meeting

There was a nice turnout at the Crown Hydro meeting.  The intelligent, critical reaction of the individuals there was amazing.  Four park  board commissioners were there and spoke against the project–Board President John Erwin, Anita Tabb, Scott Vreeland and Liz Wielinski. The meeting was covered by MPR, DJ, Mill City Times and the StarTribune.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

Star Trib: Crown Hydro Meeting

The following article by Bill McAuliffe was published in the November 26, 2013 issue of the StarTribune:

INFO MEETING ON ST. ANTHONY FALLS HYDRO PROPOSAL

A long delayed, controversial plan to build an underground hydroelectric power plant near the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis will go before the public again Tuesday, with a significant change.

Several previous proposals have not gotten past the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which has owned the land near the bridge where Crown Hydro LLC wants to install water intakes, below-ground turbines and tunnels to carry water away.

But the latest proposal would move the project 150 feet east, toward the Mississippi River itself, onto U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land.

That doesn’t mean it’s ready to be built, though. The Army Corps has indicated to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is the approving agency, that it has a range of concerns about the potential impact of the project on the lock and dam itself, and on boaters.

Nan Bischoff, FERC’s coordinator for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ St. Paul District, noted that the power plant would have to shut down whenever the lock — which is sometimes filled or drained for a single canoe passing up or downstream — is letting a boat through. That would have to be part of any agreement approving the power plant, she said.

The Park Board continues to hold a lever, said Commissioner Liz Wielinski, in the form of a permanent easement through the land above where the project’s outlet pipes would be located.

Crown Hydro submitted a preliminary application for a federal license in 1991 and received it in 1999. The FERC has told the company that its new proposal is so significantly different that it requires extensive overhaul.

The company’s informational meeting Tuesday is part of that process. It’s scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in Pohlad Hall at the Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall.

Since Crown Hydro’s first proposal, the riverfront area along downtown has been transformed from hung-over industrial land to a spectacular urban showcase of housing and entertainment as well as historic and recreational amenities. In the past, critics of the Crown Hydro proposal have said it could jeopardize the central riverfront area and that taking more water from the river could dry up the falls during hot summers.

Another hydroelectric generator was built in recent years just downstream at the Lower St. Anthony Lock and Dam. Wielinski noted that it does not use tunnels. There are currently about 30 hydropower generators on rivers in Minnesota, operated by utilities, cities, counties and private companies such as paper mills.

Crown Hydro Meeting Notice

Here is the notice for the meeting that Crown Hydro is conducting on Tuesday.

The notice states that “Crown Hydro is preparing an application to amend its existing license to, in part, shift the location of the project’s powerhouse and discharge tunnel.”  

But in April FERC told Crown Hydro it can not amend its license.  It must start over.  So Crown Hydro’s asking for the public to comment on amending its license is confusing.

Furthermore, scheduling a meeting two days before Thanksgiving AND at 3:30 in the afternoon when many individuals will still be at work is not a convenient time.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

Crown Hydro Public Meeting Next Tuesday: Regarding New River Location for Hydroelectric Facilities

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Crown Hydro is holding a public meeting to provide an opportunity for individuals to learn more about the proposed changes to the planned Upper Saint Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Project, including a new project location approximately 150 feet north of the current licensed application, and to provide comments on the proposed project.
Crown Hydro Public Meeting
Date: Tuesday, November 26
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, Pohlad Hall
Crown Hydro Notice of Meeting to Discuss Proposed Amendment to FERC License for Crown Mill Upper Saint Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Project
Crown Hydro, LLC holds a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) license to construct and operate the Crown Mill Upper Saint Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Project, Project No. 11175, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the west bank of the Mississippi River at Upper St. Anthony Falls. Crown Hydro is preparing an application to amend its existing license to, in part, shift the location of the project’s powerhouse and discharge tunnel. The proposed new powerhouse location would be approximately 150 feet north, in the headrace canal adjacent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s lock facility. To engage with the public and resource agencies, Crown Hydro has scheduled a consultation meeting with interested parties in order to solicit comments on its proposed license amendment.
The meeting will provide an opportunity for individuals to learn more about the proposed changes to the planned Crown Mill Upper Saint Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Project and to provide comments on the proposed project. More information about the project is available for download at www.crownhydroproject.com. If you would like to submit comments about the project, please provide your name, affiliation, address, along with your comments to crownhydro@gmail.com. Comments received by December 31, 2013 will be used as part of scoping for the license amendment process.
Questions and comments please contact: crownhydro@gmail.com

Crown Hydro’s Description of Proposed Project

The following material is taken from Crown Hydro’s website.  This brief description is the only information that has been made available to the public about the latest version of Crown’s proposed hydro project.  The Figures referred to in the text are included in the .pdf file attached below.    

Crown Hydro Project Description 2013-11-08 (D0175026)

Proposed Amendment to Crown Hydro Company’s License for The Crown Mill Upper Saint Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Project

November 9, 2013

Crown Hydro, LLC holds a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license to construct and operate the Crown Mill Upper Saint Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Project, FERC Project No. 11175. The Project is to be located in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the west bank of the Mississippi River at Upper St. Anthony Falls. Crown Hydro is preparing an application with FERC to amend its existing license. The as-licensed project is proposed to be revised in the following ways:

· Move the powerhouse approximately 150 feet closer to the river at the downstream end of the Upper Lock and Dam intake channel.

· Construct new tailrace tunnel under Upper Lock and Dam parking area.

A description of the project as proposed to be amended follows.

Continue reading

Crown Hydro’s Notice of November 26 Public Meeting

The following is Crown Hydro’s notice of their forthcoming public meeting, as it appeared in the Star Tribune on November 9:

Notice of Meeting to Discuss Proposed Amendment to FERC License for Crown Mill Upper Saint Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Project

Crown Hydro, LLC holds a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license to construct and operate the Upper Saint Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Project, Project No. 11175, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the west bank of the Mississippi River at Upper St. Anthony Falls. An application is being prepared to amend its existing license to, in part, shift the location of the project’s powerhouse and discharge tunnel. The proposed new powerhouse location would be approximately 150 feet north, in the headrace canal adjacent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s lock facility. To engage with the public and resource agencies, a consultation meeting has been scheduled to solicit comments on its proposed license amendment. This meeting will take place at the time and location described below:

3:30pm, Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Minneapolis Central Library, Pohlad Hall, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 55401

The meeting will provide an opportunity for individuals to learn more about the proposed changes to the planned Upper Saint Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Project, a renewable source of electricity, and to provide comments on the Proposed Project. More information about the project is available for download at http://www.crownhydroproject.com . If you would like to submit comments about the project, please provide your name, affiliation, address, along with your comments to crownhydro@gmail.com .  Comments received by December 31, 2013 will be used as part of scoping for the license amendment process.

Letter to Crown Hydro from FERC on 10/9/13

On October 9, 2013 Edward A. Abrams, on behalf of FERC, wrote to Crown Hydro’s Thomas Griffin giving him the following instructions:

“Within 90 days of holding your joint meeting, please file a detailed schedule for conducting or otherwise responding to all study requests, developing a draft amendment application, soliciting comments on the draft aplication, and filing a final application for Commission approval.  We recommend you provide a draft schedule to all interested stakeholders at the joint meeting and solicit comments on the schedule along with any study requests.” The complete letter is attached here:  CrownHydro_FERCtoCrown_Oct.9_2013

It is important for individuals concerned about this questionable project to contact FERC expressing their concerns.  Here is the address:

Mr. Edward A. Abrams, Director
Division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20426

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

Video of Crown Hydro Forum on 10/21/13

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On October 21, 2013 MPRB President John Erwin conducted a forum at the Mill City Museum relating to Crown Hydro’s latest efforts.  Board President Erwin reviewed the recent history of Crown Hydro and also outlined the reasons for the Park Board’s continuing opposition to the proposed project.

The Mill City Times has published an online video of Erwin’s comments.  View it here:

http://millcitytimes.com/news/crown-hydro-video.html

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch