Byllesby Dam: Hydroelectric Power Revisited


by The Minnesota Project - March 2004

This case study is a great example of putting a decommissioned resource back to use. Construction of the Byllesby Dam was completed in 1911, and it generated electricity for Northern States Power Company (now Xcel Energy) until 1966. In 1968, the power company transferred ownership of the dam to Goodhue and Dakota Counties. The dam remained decommissioned until the mid-1980’s when the two counties jointly decided to put it back into operation. In 1987, North American Hydro, a private firm, began to refit the dam for hydro production. The Byllesby Dam now provides 2.6 MW of renewable energy via three generators and a 56-foot head.

Dakota County manages the dam, but the generation itself, along with the paperwork and operation and maintenance details, are contracted out to North American Hydro. North American Hydro also provided the upfront capital to restart the project. The two counties and North American Hydro share the revenues from the electricity generation, which are generally put back toward dam maintenance costs. Although it does not generate a profit for the counties, it does help them cover their costs, while putting local, renewable energy back into the grid.

For more information contact: Bruce Blair, Dakota County Park Service, 651-438-4960,

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