- Competition is heating up between three developers are vying to install hydroelectric capacity at the city's St. Anthony Falls, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, though there are concerns that diverting too much water could reduce the appeal to tourists.
- The proposals are relatively small, with Dominion floating a 0.6-MW plan to use the hydroelectricity to power a nearby residential project.
- Two other proposals, each about 3.4 MW, have also been proposed, one by Symphony Hydro and another by Crown Hydro.
Xcel Energy has been generating hydroelectric power since 1882 from the St. Anthony Falls, and currently operates the 12-MW Hennepin Island Hydro Generating Station, also known as the St. Anthony Falls Hydro facility. The city is concerned that too much additional generation could take away from the falls' appeal to tourists and residents, but Xcel in the past operated additional hydro units.
In addition to Dominion's proposal to power artists' lofts, Crown Hydro is proposing to build two 1.7-MW turbines installed below ground level, which will discharge via a 16-foot diameter conduit into the Mississippi River. According to a summary of the project filed with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, river conditions will allow the project to operate approximately 60% of the time, drawing up to 1,000 cubic feet per second of flow from the river.
And last year federal agencies began considering preliminary applications for Symphony Hydro's facility, which has an estimated annual generation of 18,000 MWh.
The St. Anthony Falls dam was replaced in 2000 and 2001 with a new dam around 30 feet upriver of the existing structure. The upper island was developed into a park with an access bridge giving public view of main spillway, horseshoe dam and downtown skyline, Xcel notes on its website.