Poplar River Hydropower Feasibility Study Completed

At Arrowhead Electric we often have wondered what resrouces our local rivers may be able to play in providing a local electric supply to our members.  In conjunction with Lutsen Resort, Iron Range Resources, and Barr Engineering a hydropower feasibility study has recently been completed to determine just how practicle the idea may be.

Many residents and visitors know that Lutsen Resort was first powered by a small hydro generator (some of which is still visible today) but has since been long removed.  The study looked at the similar location as the original facility located between Lutsen Resort and Superior National Golf Course.  The study included site reconnaissance, hydrology review, turbine-generator equipment, electricity generation potential, capital costs, economic viability, permitting and likely environmental issues.

The conclusions of the study indicate that although technically viable to produce hydro power at the site it is not economical to do so at this time.  More specifically, the study which looked at multiple alternatives concluded a negative internal rate of return.  To achieve an adequate financial return the project requires an electricity selling price in excess of 30 cents per kWh.  Current wholesale electricity costs range from 5-6 cents per kWh.

Although not economical to construct at this time Arrowhead Electric Cooperative continues to research local cost-effective, reliable generation sources for our members.

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