Aldermen hear city spent additional $14k on hydropower projects

Posted: Mar. 26, 2013 10:12 am Updated: Apr. 9, 2013 12:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The city of Quincy has spent $14,354 in hydropower-related costs since aldermen were last updated in October 2011, the city comptroller says.

Ann Scott told the City Council Monday night that some of the payments included bills for bond counsel, filing fees and tax returns for the city's hydropower corporation.

"I do know that probably the difference between the two reports would be for work (that) already occurred before the appeal decision came," Scott said. "We did have a number of vendors that did have invoices out there for work they had done, but we hadn't received them yet. So they may have been paid after the appeal, but were incurred before that."

The city appealed a February 2011 decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to dismiss its preliminary permit and licensing application to operate a hydroelectric power plant at Lock and Dam 21 in Quincy. FERC upheld its decision in May 2011.

Washington-based law firm Van Ness Feldman advised the city not to seek a further appeal, because it would likely take two years and a considerable amount more than the $45,000 the firm was allotted to handle the initial appeal.

Since the city began its pursuit of a project to build hydroelectric power plants at area Mississippi River locks dams in 2006, it has spent $5.276 million, according to the latest report.

Alderman Paul Havermale, R-3, requested on Feb. 18 that the council be updated on the project. He believed the city had spent about $69,000 since the last update.

Alderman Kyle Moore, R-3, questioned why the expenses weren't brought before the council before the bills were paid, but Scott said aldermen already had approved professional services associated with the project.

Included in the payments was a $245 expense to reapply for the preliminary permits for Lock and Dam 24 in Clarksville, Mo., and Lock and Dam 25 in Winfield, Mo. By a 9-5 vote, the City Council agreed to reapply for the permits last April after meeting with representatives of Canadian-based Coastal Hydropower.

Officials hope the city can recoup some of the money spent on the hydropower project since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission dismissed the city's preliminary permit and licensing application.

Alderman Mike Farha, R-4, said the city may have paid to file for the permits but was able to avoid hefty engineering fees.

"What we were talking about, I thought at the time we did this ... was to avoid the cost of an engineering firm," Farha said.

The city was awarded the preliminary permits for Lock and Dams 24 and 25 in January, which means a six-month progress report would have to be filed with FERC in July.

In other business, the council voted 12-2 to sell 1009 Lind to Gwendolyn Tournear for $60,000. The property was renovated through the city's Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The sale is contingent on the city moving laundry hookups from the basement to the first floor.

The city received a $1.9 million grant from the Illinois Human Service Agency and $200,000 from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development program in September 2009 to address blight and vacancies in neighborhoods.

Eleven units on six properties are either being renovated or built from scratch through the program.