On Wednesday, a letter from employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service concerning the Alaska Energy Authority’s plans for the Susitna-Watana Project was made public. The letter criticizes the AEA’s current schedule of meetings and timing of upcoming research. NMFS and Fish and Wildlife say that, due to short notice, lack of collaboration, schedule conflicts, and lack of advance meeting materials, that the two Services may not be able to participate in currently scheduled meetings. (more…)
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 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…)
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…)
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.
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 timelineFriday, 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…)
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 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…)