KTNA Studio – Dave Totten, artist

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Photo by Dora Miller

KTNA Studio

KTNA On Air Studio, Jan 2013

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by James Trump

Fish Lake morning

Fish Lake morning

photo: Robin Song

Archives

Legislators Have Many Questions About Additional Susitna-Watana Funding

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

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Last week, Governor Sean Parnell asked for a budget supplement of more than $32 million for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.  The nature of the supplement has raised some questions, and it’s not clear at this time whether the state legislature will ultimately approve the additional spending.

At a meeting of the House Finance Committee last week, Karen Rehfeld, Director of the state Office of Management and Budget, fielded a number of questions from legislators regarding the Governor’s request for additional funding for the Susitna-Watana project.  Representative Les Gara of Anchorage compared the potential power output of the proposed dam against the state’s current gas line project.

“We spent $170 million, so far.  Why would we spend another $32 million at the same time we’re working on a large diameter gas line that would provide more energy than we can use–about eight times more energy than we can use–in tight fiscal times?” (more…)

Governor Parnell Proposes Additional $32.7 Million for Susitna-Watana

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Governor Sean Parnell is asking the Legislature for more money for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project, but there’s a catch.  To get the funds, the Alaska Energy Authority must secure land access to study areas owned by seven Alaska Native Corporations.

Earlier this month, AEA Executive Director Sara Fisher-Goad said that all progress had been made on land access, and she expected an agreement by the end of February.   That came after Governor Parnell cited a lack of access as his reason for funding just $10 million of the $110 million AEA says it needs to complete the studies and other work needed to obtain a federal license for the dam.  In his amended budget request, Governor Parnell is asking for an additional $32.7 million for the current fiscal year.  According to the Governor’s office, that funding would be contingent on AEA securing access to the study sites. (more…)

AEA Talks Susitna Dam Before State House Energy Committee

Thursday, February 6, 2014

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This week, the Alaska House Energy Committee heard testimony from the Alaska Energy Authority.  While the meeting was not initially intended to focus on the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project, a multitude of questions from legislators, as well as the presence of members of the Susitna River Coalition, prompted a shift that saw about half the meeting center around the proposed dam.  (more…)

Draft of Initial Study Report for the Susitna Hydro Project is Released

Monday, February 3, 2014

The draft version of the initial study reports for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project is now available.  On Monday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission posted more than ninety documents submitted by the Alaska Energy Authority detailing the initial findings of the fifty-eight studies that brought scores of scientists, pilots, and other logistical staff to the Upper Valley last summer.  Studies outlined in the documents range from ice formation on the Susitna River, to potential impact on wood frog habitat.

Currently, future studies are in a state of uncertainty.  In December, Governor Parnell’s proposed budget fell about ninety percent short of what would be needed to complete the field work and other work necessary for AEA to apply for a license to build the mega-project. The reason given for the budget cut was lack of access to land owned by Alaska Native Corporations.  That lack of access also poses a physical barrier to a large portion of the land that needs to be studied in order for the project to move forward.  As a result, AEA has moved its timeline for permit application from late 2015 to late 2016.

The final version of the initial study reports are due on June 3.  Afterwards, stakeholders will have 120 days to review the findings before the first round of meetings to discuss the potential impacts of the proposed dam.

FERC Responds to AEA Request for Extended Study Report Timeline

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted a request from the Alaska Energy Authority to extend the timeline for the initial study reports on the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.  In addition, FERC has also granted the recommendation made by many individuals, NGO, and a few federal agencies to extend the review period for those reports. (more…)

FERC has received numerous letters commenting on AEA’s request to extend the Susitna Dam study report timeline

Friday, January 24, 2014

Individuals, NGOs, and some federal groups are expressing concerns over the Alaska Energy Authority’s request to extend the timeline for studies on the proposed Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.  So far, all of the respondents have varying degrees of concerns with the request.

The request for an extension was made to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on January 6th.  FERC is the government body that determines whether projects like Susitna-Watana receive licenses. AEA is asking that FERC allow a 120 day delay in releasing the initial study reports on the mega-project. According to the current timeline, those reports are to be released on February 3rd.  AEA says it would still release the reports on February 3rd, but they would be labeled as drafts.  The final reports would then be released in early June. (more…)

Susitna Dam Timeline Delayed by Four Months

Monday, January 6, 2014

Last month, the Alaska Energy Authority learned that it would be receiving less than ten percent of the funding it would need to complete the studies and other pre-licensing steps for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.  In a press release on Monday, AEA says that $110 million will be needed, but Governor Parnell’s proposed budget provides for just $10 million.  Now, AEA is pushing back the timeline by four months, beginning with the initial study report that was originally scheduled for next month.  That report will now be considered a draft, with the final report coming in June.  AEA spokeswoman Emily Ford explains what the extended timeline is intended to do.

“That part would include our efforts for this coming field season and the next.  Essentially, it gives stakeholders a little more time to be able to understand the study results, and for us to more effectively communicate, and also to participate in the prioritization effort for upcoming studies, as well.” (more…)

The Top 5 Stories of 2013 From the KTNA Website

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The beginning of a new year is often a time to reflect on the year that was.  Last week, we put together a retrospective look at the year, but, with the magic of the internet, we’re able to take a closer look at what you, the listener (and reader), paid the most attention to.

It likely does not come as a surprise that the two biggest stories of 2013, taken as a whole, were the Sunshine Community Health Center and the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.  Both stories drew considerable local attention, and had long lifespans.  In fact, both stories are continuing into 2014.

As for individual stories, I’ve picked five that received more unique visits on the KTNA website than any others.  They are as follows, in chronological order: (more…)

Senator Dunleavy Discusses Session Priorities, Capital Projects, and House Bill 77

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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The state legislature will enter session in just over one month.  There are a number of hot topics awaiting representatives and senators when they get to Juneau, including education, the state capital budget, energy, and the controversial bill to streamline DNR’s permitting processes.  Senator Mike Dunleavy says that one of his priorities is to talk to his constituents in the Mat-Su Valley in order to get a feel for what capital projects are most needed. With less revenue and a constrained capital budget, he says it’s important to prioritize.

“I’ve made a point, and its a philosophy of mine, to ensure that we fund, at least in our district, basic needs:  sewer and water, roads, schools, emergency equipment, firefighting equipment, emergency shelters, et cetera.  And I’ll continue to do that.” (more…)

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