Hydroelectric Relicensing

Kinnickinnic River Corridor Plan

Planning Process Beginning

The firm of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. (SEH) was awarded the contract for Phase I - Analysis, Feasibility, and Preliminary Concept Plans for the Kinnickinnic River Corridor Plan on July 12, 2016. Phase 1 will include soliciting community feedback on the river corridor, including public meetings, surveys, social media, e-newsletters and other communications. Coinciding with the public engagement process, existing technical studies and plans will be reviewed and supplemented with additional studies as needed to provide the necessary information for future decisions.

On October 25, 2016, the Council approved the Kinnickinnic River Corridor Committee Members, Schedule and Public Engagement Plan. This three-year, multi-phased process will lead to a comprehensive long-term plan for the Kinnickinnic River Corridor, which will include a decision to keep or remove one or both of the City's hydroelectric dams. Visit www.kinnicorridor.org for the latest information on Kinni Corridor planning, reports and assessments, timelines, links to stakeholder groups, feedback opportunities, event calendar and more.

Recent Process

UPDATE: License Extension Granted

On Thursday, March 17, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted rehearing of their earlier denial of the City’s request for a five-year license extension for the River Falls Hydroelectric Project (P-10489) to accommodate the Kinnickinnic River Corridor Planning Process.

This action extends the license term to 2023 and delays any notice by the City to FERC to August 31, 2018 on whether the City will relicense or surrender the license. This effectively ends the relicensing process as the City and community begin planning for the Kinnickinnic River Corridor.

For more information, see the Press Release here.

License Amendment Application

On July 2, 2015, the City of River Falls submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) an Application for Amendment of the License to extend the current hydroelectric license for five years. This would give the City and community the opportunity to continue with plans for the Kinnickinnic River Corridor Plan process. You can also find the submitted appendices here. There was also a 30-day public comment period for individuals and groups to comment on this application, which ended on September 21, 2015.

On December 9, 2015, FERC staff issued a delegated order that denied the City's application for an extension on the existing license. A letter from the City Administrator was sent to agencies, stakeholders, and residents on December 11, cane be found here. The City filed a Request for Rehearing on January 8, 2015.

A letter, found here, from the City Administrator was emailed to agencies, stakeholders, and residents on March 16, 2016. It discussed the path forward through the Kinnickinnic River Corridor Planning Process and Hydroelectric Relicensing.

Recreation Study

 A summary of findings for the recreation study were sent to FERC in March, 2016. The Summary of Findings and Raw Data can be found here.

Sediment Analysis

The City of River Falls is contracting with Inter-Fluve, Inc., based in Madison, Wisconsin, to perform a sediment analysis of Lakes George and Louise on the Kinnickinnic River. The two Lakes are the reservoirs created by the Junction Falls (Upper) and Powell Falls (Lower) dams, respectively.

The Utility Advisory Board (UAB) approved an agreement with Inter-Fluve for this project on July 20, 2015. A request for proposals was published on June 25 and five well-qualified firms submitted proposals for the project. A group of staff and stakeholders met to review the proposals and prepared the recommendation for the UAB. Here is the staff report for their consideration and the full agenda packet can be found here.

Inter-Fluve completed the field work to collect data on the two lakes between August 24 and September 4. Their staff took measurements throughout the two lakes to map the contours and depths of two lakes. They developed a Final Sediment Sampling Plan following comments and input from resource agencies and stakeholders. Notes are available from the stakeholder meeting on October 7 to discuss the DRAFT Plan with staff from Inter-Fluve.12 cores were taken on November 23 and 24 and submitted for testing. 

The final Sediment Assessment Report was submitted to the City on March 14, 2016. Marty Melchior from Inter-Fluve presented the results of the study to the Utility Advisory Board on March 21, 2016. 

Continued Stakeholder Engagement

Meeting notes from the October 7, June 25, May 14, April 9, March 3, and January 30, 2015 stakeholder meetings/conference calls are also available. Following continued input and conversations with stakeholders, staff has developed the following information:

  • An updated Kinnickinnic River Corridor Plan and Licensing Strategy
  • A draft project boundary map (8mb pdf) to guide future license-related issues related to the hydroelectric project
  • An initial directed studies list that includes (1) a plan for generating necessary recreation use data to satisfy current licensing requirements and provide a baseline for future planning; and (2) a plan for sediment sampling, depth, and volume in the two impoundments to support the community decision on whether or not to maintain and the hydro facilities

2014 Hydroelectric Licensing Options Analysis

After receiving the study requests from stakeholders referred to in the "First Stage Consultation" below, City staff conducted a preliminary financial analysis of the hydroelectric facilities. That report to the City Council was published on October 20, 2014. Because of those results, the City retained TRC, a firm that specializes in hydroelectric licensing, to provide an analysis of the licensing options available to the City and their financial implications.

The City Council and Utility Advisory Board held joint workshops on December 9, 2014 (ppt/pdf) and January 13, 2015 (ppt/pdf) to discuss the licensing options with staff and a representative from TRC. An Executive Summary of those options and the PowerPoints above are available for review.

 The City Council adopted two resolutions at its January 13, 2015 meeting:

Current Relicensing Process


 The City of River Falls and the River Falls Municipal Utilities are currently undergoing the relicensing of the River Falls Hydroelectric Project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC issued the City of River Falls a 30-year license to operate the hydroelectric facilities located at Junction Falls and Powell Falls on September 1, 1988. The license expires August 31, 2018.

As part of the relicensing process, the City submitted its Notice of Intent (NOI) to relicense, Request to Use the Traditional Licensing Process (TLP), and Pre-Application Document (PAD) and Appendices to FERC on November 27, 2013. On January 27, 2014, FERC granted the City's request to use the Traditional Licensing Process. While the default process is referred to as the "Integrated Licensing Process", the Traditional Licensing Process is more appropriate for minor hydroelectric projects like ours. You can find more information on the licensing processes on the FERC website.

First Stage Consultation

 What's referred to as "First Stage Consultation" began when the City submitted its Notice of Intent and other initial information. As required by the licensing process, the City then notified foreseeably interested parties and held a Joint Public Meeting with stakeholders on March 24, 2014. An mp3 recording of the meeting and a written summary with timestamps are available. Prior to that meeting, an informational session was held at the March 17, 2014 Utility Advisory Board meeting. The PowerPoint presentation by Charles Beranek, Utility Operations Superintendent, can be found here.

Following the March 24 public meeting, all interested parties and individuals had 60 days (until May 23) to submit comments on the pre-application document and the scope and breadth of the necessary studies for relicensing to FERC and the City. The City received numerous submissions, and a compilation of all comments and study requests received can be found here.

Additional Background Information

In addition to the pre-application materials above, we would also like to provide adequate background information to interested parties and stakeholders for their review.

Initial Application & License

Background Information