A Talkeetna-based group has drafted comments for a land use permit that could help establish a winter road for the Susitna Watana Hydroelectric project. The permit, if granted, would allow for a winter route for the next five years from the Denali Highway to a point near the proposed dam site. The plan would be to set up a camp there for future studies for the dam’s licensing process. Cruz Construction of Wasilla is the permit applicant, and would use the trail to make as many as forty round trips to haul in research and camp gear, starting in February. (more…)
The Upper Valley has played host to scores of pilots, scientists, and support crew since spring of this year. The crews are here to conduct some of the fifty-eight studies that are part of the preliminary licensing process for the proposed Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. A late breakup in 2013 as well as access issues regarding lands owned by Alaska Native Corporations mean that some of the plans were altered, and the research schedule has been shuffled.
The proposed dam remains controversial in the Upper Susitna Valley, where many residents are concerned about what the potential impacts on the environment and their livelihoods will be.
Some area residents have expressed the opinion that the unusual ice conditions and land access issues this year indicate that the Alaska Energy Authority should take more time to complete the studies as opposed to trying to finish the remaining work in 2014. Wayne Dyok, project manager for the dam, says that AEA believes the research is still on schedule. (more…)
A worldwide environmental conservation group is becoming more involved in the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. This summer, contractors working under the Alaska Energy Authority have been conducting fifty-eight studies to assess the environmental impact of the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric project. The Nature Conservancy, which operates in thirty-five countries and across the entire United States, has hired a consultant to review the data that the studies produce and generate and independent assessment of some of the environmental risks. (more…)
Opponents of the Susitna Dam have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to release documents explaining their decision not to require in-depth climate change studies. An attorney representing the Coalition for Susitna Dam Alternatives sent the letter to FERC on Thursday. The National Marine Fisheries Service wants FERC to require extensive studies on the impact of climate change regarding the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. FERC denied the request, and has already been asked to release documents related to their decision, but claims that the requested documents are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
FERC cited lack of data reliability and cost as contributing to their decision. Richard Leo is the President of the Coalition for Susitna Dam Alternatives, and says that the goal of their appeal is to determine the details that influenced FERC’s decision. (more…)
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, has denied a request by the National Marine Fisheries Service to hold a new hearing on proposed climate change studies for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. The proposals were part of the original Study Plan submitted by the Alaska Energy Authority, AEA, but were deemed unnecessary by FERC. In a written order, FERC Deputy Secretary Nathaniel Davis says that, “the Commission does not agree that the climate change studies proposed by AEA and requested by NMFS are likely to yield reliable data that can be used in the development of license requirements, particularly when balanced against the cost of such assessments.”
Seven Alaska Native Corporations are expressing concerns over trespassing and land use by Alaska Energy Authority contractors working on the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric project. The concerns are laid out in a letter addressed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who is in charge of licensing projects such as the proposed 735-foot high dam. The Alaska Energy Authority, AEA, is currently conducting fifty-eight studies to gauge the environmental impact and viability of the Susitna-Watana dam. According to the letter signed by representatives of the Cook Inlet Region Native Landowner Working Group, thirty-nine of the fifty-eight projects will require the use of Native-owned land.
In a previous story which aired on Tuesday, January 22nd, KTNA reported that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had yielded to pressure from Alaska Governor Sean Parnell and members of the State Legislature to amend its timelines for the Suisitna Watana Hydroelectric Dam study process. KTNA was in error in reporting that FERC rescinded their December 31st judgement that 13 of 58 studies were inadequate.
FERC did not reverse its decision to alter the timeline for issuing a Study Plan Determination, as reported by KTNA. in fact, FERC stood by its December 31 directive to AEA to provide more study details on 13 of the 58 proposed studies.
In a letter dated January 17, FERC reiterated to AEA that the lacking details were -quote – “integral to determining whether the studies would gather the needed information to process AEA’s license application. -” end quote
FERC did change the May 14 Study Plan Determination deadline to April 1, shortening the public comment period.
In the story, which aired on Tuesday, January 22nd, the KTNA newsroom also misidentified Jan Konigsberg, who is in fact an independent observer of the Susitna Watana Hydroelectric Project.
Also, the KTNA newsroom used the term “Legislative delegation”, which does not, in fact, mean that senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich , nor representative Don Young have voiced any approval or opposition to the proposed Dam. In the story of January 22nd, KTNA used the term ‘Alaska Delegation’ to mean the senators and representatives of the Alaska State Legislature. KTNA regrets the error.
Steven Hawley’s book “Recovering a Lost River” chronicles the impact of damming rivers in the Pacific Northwest. In this conversation, Hawley talked about many of the historical, and potential, ramifications of dam building on salmon and communities. Lorien Nettleton hosted this program, live from the KTNA studio. The program is an hour.
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Alaska Energy Authority officials updated the House Energy Committee Thursday on the status of the proposed Susitna Watana Dam. AEA’s Executive Director Sara Fisher-Goad and Susitna Hydropower Lead Project Manager Wayne Dyok laid out the timeline leading up to their licensing application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which they plan to file by the end of 2015.
AEA hopes the dam will be licensed by 2017, with construction completed by 2023. That timeline would aid the State’s goal of supplying 50% of Alaska’s energy needs with renewables by 2025. (more…)