Federal officials reject hydroelectric proposal

Federal energy regulators on Thursday rejected a plan to install a hydroelectric generator in the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock on the Mississippi River.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied the permit application of Symphony Hydro LLC to install twin generators in the lock. The boat passage through the upper falls will close by June 1 to halt the spread of invasive carp. The lock is upstream of the historic Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis.

The FERC order said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and operates the lock and dam, "explicitly finds the proposed project to be incompatible" with the lock and therefore "no purpose would be served by issuing a permit."

The Minneapolis Park Board, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and a citizen group called the Friends of the Riverfront also had raised concerns about the project. Symphony Hydro may request a hearing.

Company executives could not be reached for comment.

The project is one of three hydro generators proposed on the upper falls. Xcel Energy, the Minneapolis-based electric utility, already operates a hydropower generator there.

staff Report

Dakota County

Parks get state funding for restoration

More than 220 acres of natural land in two Dakota County parks are likely to undergo major restoration.

Dakota County commissioners are expected to approve $456,644 in Legacy Amendment grants Tuesday. The grants require a local match from the county totaling $50,738.

The funding will pay for restoration of 49 acres of prairie and woodland at Spring Lake Park Reserve near Hastings. It will also support enhancements to 175 acres of prairie, woodlands and wetlands in Lebanon Hills Regional Park, which is located in Eagan and Apple Valley.

"Buckthorn is spreading throughout this area and needs to be removed before it shades out the ground layer vegetation," according to a county summary for the Lebanon Hills project. Officials plan to replace the buckthorn with 100 species of native plants and grasses.

Dakota County plans to wrap up the changes to the parks in 2018.

Jessie van Berkel

St. Paul

Coleman expected back from 5-day trip to Cuba

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is scheduled to return Monday from a five-day trip to Cuba, where he went to discuss U.S.-Cuba relations and expand business, commerce and tourism opportunities for his city.

Coleman was part of a 40-member delegation made up of public officials and representatives from the private sector. In December, President Obama announced that he would reinstate diplomatic ties with Cuba and loosen travel and trade restrictions.

Tonya Tennessen, spokeswoman for the mayor, said the visit also included a conversation about U.S.-Cuba relations with Carlos Alzugaray, the former Cuban ambassador to the European Union.

Coleman traveled as a representative of the National League of Cities. Tom Martin, spokesman for the organization, said the trip was a good "introduction" for U.S. cities to begin forging partnerships with cities across the globe.

Blair Emerson


Council grants permit for new taproom and brewery

Robbinsdale is the latest suburb to jump on the brewery boom.

The west metro city approved a conditional-use permit for a taproom, small brewery and patio at last week's City Council meeting. Wicked Wort Brewing Co. has a September target opening date at 4165 W. Broadway, a former bank building. Now the brewery will need to close on the building, which is owned by the city's Economic Development Authority, and get final city approvals.

Robbinsdale joins metro cities including Excelsior, Minnetonka, Hopkins and St. Louis Park that have approved microbreweries and taprooms since a 2011 change in state law took effect.