4:01 PM | Posted in ,
I have been largely missing in the blogs over the last couple weeks. During my time away there have been several developments on the Crown Hydro Project. First, a bill has been introduced in the Senate that would make it more difficult for the lowest levels of government to be a roadblock to a project which has been approved by every other level of government. Second, I received an email with a laundry list of objections which I have yet to address.

1) There are better alternatives. Xcel Energy currently operates a 12-megawatt hydroelectric power plant on the east side of the river at St. Anthony Falls. Crown Hydro proposes construction of a 3.2-megawatt hydroelectric power plant across the river on public land owned by the Minneapolis Park Board that would divert water from the flow over the Falls. Updating the existing Xcel plant with current technology could produce even more than 3.2megawatts of additional power at a cheaper cost and without changing the water flow over the Falls.

While frequent commenter, Taxpaying Liberal has his take:

1- Expand the Xcel plant on the other side of the river.

The 1st two points are perfect examples of this.

The writers of this should have known that the very reason Crown Hydro is building on this side of the river is because the city and others turned down Xcels request to expand at their current site.

The compromise was to find and encourage an independent producer who could build on the downtown side of the river. Now many of the same people who opposed Xcels request back in the 80’s are now asking to start the process all over again and that way we can continue this conversation for another 20 years.

I agree that if Xcel can squeeze another 3.2 megawatts out of its existing plant they should if the economics of the project is worth doing but that is a decision that Xcel should make.

At the same time Crown should also be built so we end up with 6.4 megawatts of CLEAN power and reduce the carbon footprint even more.

Wouldn’t you agree that 6.4 megawatts of Clean renewable power is better than 3.2 megawatts?

From the Summary of the FERC:

“Overall, these measures would protect or enhance water quality, fish and wildlife resources, recreational resources, and cultural resources in the Crown Mill project area. In addition, the electricity generated from the project would be beneficial because it would reduce the use of fossil fuel, electric generating plants, conserve nonrenewable energy resources, and reduce atmospheric pollution. No reasonable action alternatives to the project have been identified for assessment. The no action alternative has been considered and is addressed in the Comprehensive Development and Recommended Alternative section (section VI).”

I have a bit of a different perspective on this particular objection. The objection appears to be at odds with itself. The claim is that the 3.2 megawatts produced by Crown Hydro would change the water flow over the falls. Yet, the writer proposes having Xcel Energy increase its output by 3.2 megawatts. If it were true that Crown Hydro would drastically change the water flow over the falls, then shouldn't you also be opposed to increased output by Xcel Energy that in your own words would change the water flow over the falls? Perhaps I am missing something here...

That being said, there have been engineers hired by Minneapolis Park Board as well as University of Minnesota St. Anthony Falls Lab engineers who indicate that the water flow will be largely unaffected and any affect will be visually indiscernible. There are other safeguards put in place by Crown Hydro to make sure that no more than 1000 cubic feet per second of water is taken into the intake structure.

So, if the construction of the Crown Hydro Project will leave the area almost completely untouched, take measures to leave water flow changes negligible including giving the Park Board power to shut off diversion, AND you are willing to see Xcel Energy increase its output to the 3.2 megawatts that Crown Hydro would produce, then what really is the issue here?

On a side note: Some people have emailed me to say that while this project has been sufficiently proven as a legitimate project, there has been no call to action.

Well, here it is: Please take a moment and contact any of the following people to inquire about why this project has been continually held up. Feel free to use any of the information provided here and in previous posts to start getting answers and when you do feel free to email me back with what you have heard (political_muse(AT)hotmail(DOT)com).

Local Legislators:

Linda Higgins
Bobby Joe Champion

Park Commissioners:
Jon Olson: 612--230-6443 #2

Stay tuned as we further address the objections to this legitimate project...
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5 responses to "Crown Hydro - The Objections Pt. 3"

  1. taxpaying liberal On March 2, 2009 at 9:26 PM

    When I saw the letter from the park watch people you posted I have to admit it was a depressing thing to read.

    I wondered how on earth could Obama’s plan to stimulate growth through green technology and clean renewable energy could ever succeed with opposition like the kind we see in the Crown Hydro project.

    This is a small project. 3.2 megawatts is a drop in the bucket compared to what we are going to need if we want to reach 25 by 25. And yet this project has taken almost 20 years and millions of dollars to reach this point. What kind of investor wants to spend millions and wait years to break ground on a project.

    As the letter writers point out the return on investment is narrow and even more so when the whole project can be stopped or delayed at any time for any reason.

    We need one of these types of projects being built every month if we are going to reach our goals. If we treat private investors like this who do they think is going to pick up the slack?

    Many of the objections stated in that letter were, to put it kindly, misleading. This is a great project and exactly the type of thing we should be doing.

    I’d like to examine the point about preserving the Crown Mills Ruins.

    One of the main reasons for the location of the city of Mlps is in fact the St. Anthony falls. The city wasn’t built around the falls because it was pretty. The city was built around the falls because it was a source of power. Before Mlps was known for office buildings and rentable space it was known as “mill city” and the river was the engine that powered our economy.

    The Neighborhoods that grew up around the falls was built for the workers of that area. Those that want to preserve that heritage should honor it by remembering what it was and what it could continue to be, a source of power and a place where jobs provided the stability to build a great city.

    In Mlps. today Hydro power takes a back seat to political power.

    To pretend to honor this place by laying some sod over the ruins is to forget the history of this area.

    The writers of that letter claimed that this project will put man instead of nature in charge of the falls.

    I’ve got news for them. Man has been in charge of the river for a long time. If we weren’t, the falls would have collapsed a long time ago moving up stream and flooding would be a major problem in Mlps. Indeed one of the writers lives on Nicollet Island and we can only speculate about what she would say if we left nature in charge.

    The falls is a beautiful place and this project will have no visible effect. In fact this project will have one of the smallest footprints of any energy project in the country. And still even this project can’t get done.

    This letter just points out how little people are willing to do to change the way we get our energy. Until we change those ways we will continue to send men and women overseas to fight wars for energy and we will continue to pour millions of tons of garbage and carbon into our air.

    This happens because one park board member, one State Senator and one St. House representative don’t have the vision that the president has asked them to share.

  2. lloydletta On March 4, 2009 at 8:18 PM

    Muse, I'd encourage you to contact Tracy Nordstrom - current Park Board member who was a swing vote on this issue. What turned her against it, was what she considered Crown Hydro's bad faith editor to try to use the legislature to do an end run around the Park Board.

    Also, I'm just curious - why no comment about the latest antics by your congressperson? It's odd that none of the 6th District progressive blogs have discussed Michele Bachmann's latest gaffes - they've gotten on national news, Strib, national political blogs, Olbermann.

  3. Political Muse On March 4, 2009 at 8:36 PM

    "Also, I'm just curious - why no comment about the latest antics by your congressperson? It's odd that none of the 6th District progressive blogs have discussed Michele Bachmann's latest gaffes - they've gotten on national news, Strib, national political blogs, Olbermann."

    *Unfortunately, I have been quite busy over the last few weeks and have not had the time to track the crazy. You and Avidor as usual have done an admirable job. I am hoping to jump back into tracking the crazy...

  4. taxpaying liberal On March 5, 2009 at 12:12 PM

    Tracy voted against Crown long before they went to the legislator.

    That’s why Crown felt it necessary to try to establish some sort of order to the approval process.

    If the only reason a Park board member votes against this project is because they are offended by the owners trying to get this project done then once again you are looking at a political decision and not someone who acting in the best interest of the city, the Parks, the State and Nation.

    This comment speaks volumes about just how petty some of the members of the Park board are and why they need some type of intervention.

    I’d like to see Tracy go in front of the 49er’s or IBEW and tell them that their jobs mean nothing to her.

    Please Muse, Ask Tracy.

  5. lloydletta On March 14, 2009 at 12:26 AM

    TL you are using straw man arguments against Tracy Nordstrom. She didn't tell me she opposed the project because she was opposed to job creation. What's interesting to me is the Crown Hydro backers poisoned the well on their own with Park Board swing vote Tracy Nordstrom.

    It speaks volumes that the Crown Hydro backers only found one Minneapolis legislator (and that a freshman - from Minneapolis/Richfield/Bloomington) to push their bill. Sen. Kubly the original chief author pulled his sponsorship. The bill appears DOA.