FERC awards Quincy preliminary permits to seek hydropower licenses at two locks

Posted: Jan. 11, 2013 3:04 pm Updated: Feb. 1, 2013 4:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The city of Quincy has been awarded preliminary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for hydropower at Lock and Dam 24 in Clarksville, Mo., and Lock and Dam 25 in Winfield, Mo.

The preliminary permit allows the holder to fulfill the requirements needed to submit an application for a license to develop a hydroelectric plant.

In a decision released Friday, FERC awarded the city the preliminary permits over competing applications from Boston-based Free Flow Power.

The permit applications originally were submitted by the city on May 1, when the previous preliminary permits for the two locations expired. The city received a letter from FERC on May 4 informing the city that its applications were deficient. The city resubmitted the applications in June.

Aldermen approved reapplying for the permits in April to try to recoup money invested in developing hydropower at Lock and Dam 21 in Quincy. Aldermen met with representatives from Canadian-based Coastal Hydropower on March 29 in a closed meeting, but no details were released on discussions.

Quincy Mayor John Spring said he was pleased to see that the city was awarded the permits, but the city will have to see what direction to take.

"There is interest out there from the private sector," Spring said. "We have to make certain that we understand ... all the particulars that we know for certain before we move in any direction."

In its application, the city proposed installing 60 500-kilowatt turbine generator units at Lock and Dam 24, and 40 500-kilowatt turbine generator units at Lock and Dam 25.

The city has spent $5 million since 2006 on developing hydropower facilities on the Mississippi River.

FERC dismissed the licensing application for Lock and Dam 21 in February 2011, ruling that the city had inappropriately collaborated with a private energy company on the project. The city appealed the decision, saying FERC personnel had approved the public-private effort, but the commission upheld its decision in May 2011.

The Washington-based law firm VanNess Feldman advised the city not to seek a further appeal of FERC's ruling because it would likely take two years and considerably more than the $45,000 the firm was allotted to handle the initial appeal.

The preliminary permit for Lock and Dam 21 is now held by Hydro Green Energy of Westmont.

The city is in the process of paying back a $6.6 million bond that was approved in 2009 to cover licensing costs.