Two companies seek FERC permit for Mississippi River hydro project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 11 said it is seeking comments – and any more permit applications – related to a Mississippi River hydro project that drew competing preliminary permit applications.

On July 23, Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency and Lock+TM Hydro Friends Fund III LLC filed preliminary permit applications to study the feasibility of a hydropower project at the existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Melvin Price Lock and Dam. This dam is located on the Mississippi River near the city of Alton, Ill., in Madison County, Ill., and St. Charles County, Mo.

The sole purpose of a preliminary permit, if issued, is to grant the permit holder priority to file a license application during the permit term.

Western Minnesota’s proposed Melvin Price Lock and Dam Hydroelectric Project would include: arrays of micro-turbines; a 150-foot by 150-foot substation located next to the dam on the Missouri side of the river that would step-up the project voltage from 13.8 kV to 138 kV; and a 138-kV, 1.07-miles-long transmission line connecting the project substation to an existing substation on the Illinois side of the river.

Western Minnesota has not decided on a micro-turbine supplier but states that the capacity of the project would be based on an established flow and head condition. At a mean water head of 14.7 feet and a flow of 72,600 cubic feet per second (cfs) flowing through the project, each steel structure assembly would produce 15.5 MW resulting in a project rated capacity of 93 MW. At a maximum operating head of 20.0 feet, the anticipated flow through the project would be 85,800 cfs producing 24.9 MW per steel structure assembly or 149.4 MW for the project. The estimated average annual generation would be 445.4 gigawatt-hours.

Hydro Friends’ competing Melvin Price Locks and Dam Hydroelectric Project would include: a 750-foot-long, 22-foot-wide, 66-foot-high Large Frame Module (LFM) enclosed in a powerhouse and containing 50 turbines each having a diameter of 8 feet and a nameplate capacity of 1.5 MW for a total system capacity of 75 MW; and a 69 kV or 115 kV, 4.8-miles-long transmission line connecting the project power to an existing substation. The estimated average annual generation would be 427,050 gigawatt-hours.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.