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Small Hydro in Minneapolis

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The following was posted on the Minneapolis Issue E-List today from one of the Park Board Members. It refers to a proposal to put a small hydroelectric generation plant on the Mississippi River by the Stone Arch Bridge. I believe that the original proposal was to put it in at the north side of the Mill Ruins parking lot on the west bank.

There is a pretty long history with Crown Hydro. The Park Board denied their previous request for use of park land. There were many issues involved in the decision including concern about stability of the ground above the ruins, noise and vibrations from the turbines, and reduction of water flow. Go to the e-democracy website and do a search for Crown Hydro to find out more. It appears that Crown Hydro has tried to address several of those issues in their latest proposal.

This is a good case of trying to balance the need for increased renewables with the urban environment. St. Anthony Falls is one of the few sites along the Mississippi River that offers any potential for hydroelectric generation. Yet, it's in the middle of the city and a significant historical district. Thoughts?

I have seen a proposal from Crown Hydro that is different from the proposal previously presented to the Park Board.

I am well aware this was a very controversial issue especially for those who live close by.

My District, district # 3 begins down river at Portland, so this project is in my district.

From the proposal:

The power generation will be silent and invisible and operate only when there is sufficient water to keep a minimum amount of water over the falls.


Two silent, vibration free turbines 42' underground; can generate 20-25 Million Kilowathours/year(2000-2500 Homes)


Next to the Park Board's existing water intake for Mills Ruin Park which is located at the North end of the parking lot by the stone arch bridge.


Water enters intake drops 42' passes through turbines hidden below the surface and returns through Park Board tailrace canal in Mill Ruins Park (less than 8% annual river flow)


Turbines operate only when river supplies adequate water. Turbines reduce or suspend operation to ensure flow over St. Anthony Falls and to maintain aesthetics and property values.

They have also suggested that Condo Associations and Neighborhood Groups be represented on a citizen Advisory Committee which would recommend policy about flow rates and make recommendation about some of the revenue produced by this project.

I have many questions, some answers, and would like to make sure this proposal receives sufficient public review.

Rob Brown is their communications person and could provide additional

details: _robbrown12@aol.com_ (


Scott Vreeland

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Commissioner District # 3

UPDATE: An article appeared in the Skyway News on the Crown Hydro project. This will be receiving a lot more attention once the election is over and the Park Board prepares to hear it. I'll try to pass on information when I get it.