Letter from FERC to Crown Hydro, April 3, 2014

This is an introduction by Doug Verdier to the latest letter from FERC to Crown Hydro’s president, Thomas R. Griffin:
FERC’s Edward A. Abrams is reminding Crown Hydro of the many requirements FERC expects to be included in any “amendment application” and giving them a deadline of Sept. 30, 2014 for submission.  FERC also emphasizes the concerns raised by interested agencies as well as the public, several of which were not listed in Crown’s Feb. 22 report to FERC on their progress, including the public meeting of Nov. 26, 2013.

Verdier goes on to comment that he continues to be amazed that FERC is referring to the “amendment application,” especially after FERC had stated very clearly many months ago that an amendment was inappropriate due to the numerous changes to the project’s location and scope.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

Project No.11175-024 — Minnesota
Mill Hydroelectric Project
Crown Hydro, LLC

April 3, 2014

Mr. Thomas R. Griffin
President, Crown Hydro, LLC
2432 East 1st Street
Duluth, MN 55812

Subject:  Preparation of amendment application

Dear Mr. Griffin:

We received your February 25, 2014 report, filed in response to our October 9, 2013 letter. In our letter, we reviewed your plans for initial consultation, including a meeting with interested agencies, tribes, and the public as part of developing an application to amend the license of the Crown Mill Project. We asked you to file, within 90 days of the meeting, a detailed schedule for conducting or otherwise responding to all study requests, developing a draft amendment application, soliciting comments on the draft application, and filing a final application for Commission approval.

February 25, 2014 Report


In your report, you indicate that the joint meeting, which was held November 26, 2013, provided you with valuable insights into resource agency and public concerns. You provide a table in your report summarizing study requests and concerns you received from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (Park Board), and the public, both at the meeting and in letters to you following the meeting. In your table, you provide responses to the study requests and concerns you summarize. You note that, although some comments did not equate to specific study requests, they identify concerns that warrant your consideration.

The comment letters supplied you by the four resource agencies were also filed with the Commission, as were many letters from the general public. In reviewing the agencies’ letters, we note your report broadly summarizes the issues they raise, and that your corresponding responses and list of studies are similarly broad. Please ensure that any studies you develop in response to these issues, specifically address these issues.

We also note that some concerns identified by the agencies are not included in your summary table. For example, the Park Board identified the need to address public safety and geologic stability, but you did not include these points in your summary of issues that the Park Board raised. Also, you wrote in your report that “Impacts to park land and park access will not be studied, but negotiated with the MPRB [Park Board] at a later date.” Please review our April 15, 2013 letter, which provides a list of agencies you need to consult with, and note that these agencies include the Park Board. You will need to fully address any study requests made by the Park Board if you intend to utilize any lands managed by the Park Board.

You state in your report that you are now in the process of designing the studies referenced in your summary, and that you anticipate commencing the studies within the next two months, with completion by August 2014. You indicate that, upon completion of the studies, you will begin developing a draft amendment application. You anticipate that the draft amendment application would then be provided to the agencies for comment in October 2014 and that, after providing the agencies with opportunity to comment on the draft, a final application could be filed with the Commission in January 2015. You note that your schedule presupposes that no additional studies would be required, and that if timeframes require adjustment, you would notify the Commission.

Conclusions and Necessary Actions

The four resource agencies that supplied you with comments raised a broad number of significant concerns regarding the Crown Mill Project. The public has also identified a number of concerns. You need to ensure that, as you go forward in consulting on and developing your draft amendment application, you adequately consider and address the issues that are raised. We strongly recommend that you review the agencies’ letters regarding their study requests and comments, and that you work with the agencies to ensure their concerns, and those of the public, are addressed. You also need to ensure that you address the items identified in our April 15, 2013 letter to you and its attached Schedule A.

Finally, please note that you will need to consult with the Commission’s Division of Dam Safety and Inspections-Chicago Regional Engineer regarding several issues, including stability and protection of existing structures.

So that we can monitor your progress toward filing an acceptable license amendment application, please file by September 30, 2014, a report on your progress developing a draft application along with the results of all of your completed studies. Please include in your progress report copies of any additional comments you receive from federal, state, and local agencies and the public, and descriptions of how you plan to address these comments.

If you have any questions concerning this matter, please contact Mr. B. Peter Yarrington at (202) 502-6129 or peter [dot] yarrington [at] ferc [dot] gov.


Edward A. Abrams, Director
Division of Hydropower Administration
and Compliance

cc:  Mr. Donald H. Clarke
Counsel to Crown Hydro, LLC
Law Offices of Duncan, Weinberg, Genzer & Pembroke, P.C.
M Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036