Crown Hydro plans studies in response to agency, neighborhood criticism

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March 7, 2014
By: Ben Johnson
St. Anthony Falls
Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

Compared to the mythical Hydra, Whac-A-Mole, and called “the project that just won’t die” by several members of the Park Board, Crown Hydro will continue to press forward over the summer with its plan to build a hydroelectric power facility next to St. Anthony Falls.

On Feb. 25 Crown announced it will conduct a number of studies during the summer to address longstanding concerns that have prevented the project from moving forward since receiving its original license in March of 1999.

A public meeting was held on Nov. 26 to discuss Crown’s latest proposal, which would move all of its operations 150 feet to the north to get it off of Park Board land after more than a decade of contentious negotiation between the two parties failed to yield a working agreement.

Since that meeting more than 60 people and four government agencies have submitted formal letters to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), overwhelmingly in opposition to the project. FERC will eventually have to decide whether to grant Crown an amended license, require it to apply for an entirely new license, or revoke its current license.

In response to the letters Crown has pledged to update fish and mussel data, and conduct a water flow analysis, a recreation study, a Stone Arch Bridge Foundation and Cultural Resources Study, and a visual and aesthetic study of St. Anthony Falls. These studies will begin within the next two months and will be completed by August.

Crown hopes to have a draft application ready for comment by October, and after an additional comment period, a final application into FERC by January 2015.

Ben Johnson // 612-436-5088 // // @johnsonbend