U.S. firm sees 8.98-MW Lower St. Anthony on line in 2007

SAF Hydroelectric LLC is moving forward with plans to build the 8.98-MW Lower St. Anthony Falls project, which it hopes to complete by the end of 2007.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a rehearing order in June, completing issuance of a 50-year license for the project (No. 12451), to be built at a Corps of Engineers lock and dam on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

Although construction is to begin by Feb. 20, 2008, and be completed by Feb. 20, 2011, SAF consultant Douglas Spaulding of Spaulding Consultants, said the project could be in service before Jan. 1, 2008.

The FERC license allows installation of modular Matrix turbine technology, eliminating the need for a powerhouse. It would have eight moveable steel modules in eight stoplog slots on the auxiliary lock structure.

Each module would contain two 6- by 12-foot bulb-type turbine-generators. SAF Hydroelectric LLC also is to install a 14-foot-tall Obermeyer spill gate at the top of the turbine-generator assembly, and a hoist at the top of the intake tower to raise and lower the turbine units.

SAF Hydroelectric expects to avoid some civil costs by selecting the Matrix technology, Spaulding said. Costs are expected to total $24 million.

Lower St. Anthony Falls will use flows made available by the Corps, and is to operate so as not to conflict with the Corps’ navigation functions. It is to generate 57 gigawatt-hours annually for sale to utility Xcel Energy at a rate of up to 4.5 cents per kWh.

In 2004, the project received a $2 million grant from a Renewable Development Fund financed by Xcel. Xcel operated a project at the site from 1898 to 1987, when a powerhouse collapse ended generation.

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