Hydroelectric Relicensing

Kinnickinnic River Corridor Plan

Introduction

The City of River Falls and the River Falls Municipal Utilities are currently relicensing 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. You can find more information on the licensing processes on the FERC website.

Timeline

A timeline for this process can be found here.

The Process - Current Status Back to the Beginning

Resolution Passed Approving Agreement with TRC Solutions for Year Two of Hydroelectric Relicensing Work 

On November 27, 2018, the River Falls City Council passed Resolution No. 6324 approving an agreement with TRC Solutions for completing year two filings, study facilitation, and support for the relicensing project as outlined in the agreement. Watch the City Council meeting here.

Resolution Passed Approving Proceeding with Integrated Licensing Process and Settlement Agreement on August 14, 2018

On August 14, 2018, the River Falls City Council passed Resolution No. 6292 directing staff to proceed with the Integrated Licensing Process and Settlement Agreement. The Council considered the recommendation of both the Utility Advisory Board and TRC (the Utility’s consultant) to move forward with the process. TRC examined alternatives to an Integrated Licensing Process (ILP) but did not find those viable. The Utility Advisory Board agreed with those findings.  Watch the City Council meeting here.

Resolution Passed to Relicense Hydro Facilities on February 27, 2018

On January 15, 2018, the Utility Advisory Board held a public hearing to consider three possibilities advanced from Resolution No. 6198 passed by the City Council on October 10, 2017. They were:

  • Scenario 1: Relicense the current hydro facilities, maintaining both the Junction Falls and Powell Falls hydro facilities and dams
  • Scenario 2: Surrender the license, which would remove both the Junction Falls and Powell Falls hydro facilities and dams at some point in the future
  • Scenario 3: Relicense the Junction Falls hydro facility, and remove the Powell Falls hydro facility and dam at some point in the future

The Utility Advisory Board passed a resolution recommending the relicense of the Junction Falls hydro facility and removal the Powell Falls hydro facility and dam in the future.  Any hydro or dam related expenditures over $5,000 would be brought to the Utility Advisory Board and City Council for review and approval. Watch the Utility Advisory Board meeting here.

On January 25, 2018, the Kinni Corridor Project Committee met to finalize its recommendation to the Council on the relicensing decision. The Committee agreed to forward a recommendation to the City Council to endorse ultimate removal of both of the City’s hydro facilities and to recommend that the City Council choose to relicense the City’s hydro project for the last time, with a target date for removing the Powell Falls facility by 2026 and retaining the Junction Falls facility for a period up to 2048, within the parameters of a policy framework and settlement agreement.

As a result of the recommendations from the Utility Advisory Board and the Kinni Corridor Project Committee, the Council passed Resolution No. 6234  recommending the relicensing of the hydroelectric project on February 27, 2018. Watch the City Council meeting here.

Resolution Passed Regarding Hydro Relicensing Options on October 10, 2017

On October 10, 2017, the City Council passed Resolution No. 6198 based upon the recommendation of the Kinni Corridor Committee to limit the hydro licensing decision to three scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: Relicense the current hydro facilities, maintaining both the Junction Falls and Powell Falls hydro facilities and dams
  • Scenario 2: Surrender the license, which would remove both the Junction Falls and Powell Falls hydro facilities and dams at some point in the future
  • Scenario 3: Relicense the Junction Falls hydro facility, and remove the Powell Falls hydro facility and dam at some point in the future

Watch the City Council meeting here.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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:

Studies and Analysis

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.Twelve 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. 

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