Symphony Hydro Project – Update

The following e-mail, with attachment regarding Symphony Hydro LLC, is from Doug Verdier who lives in the Mill City District.

Symphony Hydro Project – Update

Attached FYI and action is the Oct. 22, 2014 “Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions to Intervene, and Competing Applications” that has been issued by FERC to Symphony Hydro LLC.

You will note in paragraph 2 of the Notice the scope of the proposed project. What it does NOT state is that the concrete bulkheads and turbine generators will be constructed INSIDE the current St. Anthony Falls Lock. This information was included in Symphony Hydro’s original June 25, 2014 application to FERC for the permit that has now been issued. The plan to construct a hydro plant inside the lock is predicated on the future closing of the lock for navigation, required not later than June 10, 2015. The closing was mandated by Public Law 113-121, dated June 10, 2014, and was intended mainly to prevent migration of invasive carp up the Mississippi RIver.

The law provides: “Emergency Operations — Nothing in this section prevents the Secretary from carrying out emergency lock operations necessary to mitigate flood damage.” We’ve seen that use for a couple of weeks this past summer when lock doors at both ends were open.

Construction of concrete bulkheads and turbine generators inside the lock would certainly have some impact on the ability of the Corps of Engineers to regulate flow for flood control. But more importantly, such construction would be a significant obstacle to any future navigation through the locks if it were necessary for an emergency or even for certain maintenance operations up river. The current repair project on the base of the 3rd Avenue bridge requires the use of several barges loaded with equipment, including a large crane, for example. These barges all came through the lock to get to their current position at the bridge. Construction of any kind inside the lock would impede such passage.

Bottom line: The notion of constructing a hydro plant inside the lock, regardless of whether it is to be closed for navigation, is a bad idea. It is inconceivable that the lock would never again be needed for navigation. It is critical that the lock remain functional, controlled by the Corps of Engineers, and unencumbered by any sort of construction so that it is available immediately when needed in the future.

I invite all of you to address your concerns about this project with FERC. Deadline for comments is Dec. 22, 2014. Instructions for filing your comments are contained at the bottom of page 1 and top of page 2 of the Notice.

Anyone wishing to receive a copy of the original June 25 filing by Symphony Hydro may email me, please use “Symphony Hydro” in the subject line.

Doug Verdier