Minnesota agency seeks hydro permit without need for FERC drawing

The Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (WMMPA) on Nov. 21 asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to cancel a Nov. 25 drawing to determine priority on two competing applications for a hydro project that were filed at the same time.

WMMPA filed one of the preliminary permit applications for its Melvin Price Dam Hydroelectric Project on the Mississippi River. On Nov. 19, the commission issued a notice for a Nov. 25 drawing to see which of the applications will get priority for a preliminary permit, which allows the permittee the exclusive right for three years to study project feasibility.

The competing application in this case was from Lock+ Hydro Friends Fund III LLC.

WMMPA said the drawing should terminate and it should get the preliminary permit because the commission’s regulations say that filing priority is only an issue if neither or both applicants is a municipality.

“That is not the case here,” it added. “If one of the applicants is a municipality and the other is not, the municipality receives the preliminary permit if its proposed project is at least as well adapted to a comprehensive plan for the waterway as the non-municipal applicant’s proposed project. If the Commission determines that the non-municipal applicant’s application is better adapted, it must inform the municipal applicant of the reasons why, and afford the municipal applicant an opportunity to make its proposed project at least as well adapted as the non-municipality’s proposal. If the municipality does so, the permit is awarded to the municipality. Where a municipality is competing with a non-municipality, priority of filing date is irrelevant.”

WMMPA notes that in another situation earlier this year involving materially identical circumstances, the commission “inexplicably” chose to hold a drawing to determine priority of filing. That was on competing applications from FFP Qualified Hydro 14 LLC and WMMPA. “Because WMMPA reasonably believed the Commission would file an errata notice and cancel the drawing in that proceeding, just as it had in this proceeding, WMMPA filed its motion to intervene and protest before learning that the Commission had already held the drawing,” the agency said.

The proposed projects are:

  • The Lock+ project would consist of a steel frame modular hydropower system with 50 turbines. Each of the turbines will have a nameplate capacity of about 1.5 MW based on a recorded net head of 21 feet. The entire system of turbines should produce approximately 75 MW. The expected annual output is 427,050 MWh.
  • The WMMPA project would consist of installing micro-turbines in a steel structure, with a project total design capacity of 149.4 MW. The expected average annual energy generation would be 445.4 GWh.
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.