Regulators pull money from controversial downtown Minneapolis riverfront power project
ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA — By Eric Roper, Star Tribune.
August 16, 2018
State regulators dealt a major blow Thursday to a controversial proposal to generate hydroelectric power beside the Stone Arch Bridge, possibly derailing a project in the works for more than two decades.
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted to yank the remaining $3.5 million from a renewable energy grant Xcel Energy awarded to Crown Hydro LLC in 2002. The firm wants to build a powerhouse beside the falls and a tunnel running beneath the historic bridge, a plan opposed by the city, its Park Board, and an array of advocacy groups focused on the river.
Opponents say the project clashes with plans to develop an area around the now-shuttered lock and dam system into a destination spot, with food options and a visitor center. They also highlight how much the riverfront has changed since the hydroelectric project was proposed — before the Guthrie Theater, the Mill City Museum and an array of luxury apartment buildings were built.
“We have a project which perhaps was once in the public interest, but through the passage of time — and a lot of time — it no longer is,” said PUC Commissioner Dan Lipschultz. “And, in fact, I think is contrary to the public interest in a really profound way.”
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