KTNA Studio – Dave Totten, artist

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by Dora Miller

KTNA Studio

KTNA On Air Studio, Jan 2013

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by James Trump

Winter Black-capped Chickadee

winter chickadee

Photo by Robin Song

Fish Lake morning

Fish Lake morning

photo: Robin Song


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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


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…)

Governor Parnell’s Budget Proposal Has Implications for Multiple Energy Projects, Not Just Susitna

Monday, December 16, 2013


Governor Sean Parnell’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2015 includes many cuts to capital projects.  KTNA has covered the Governor’s decision to cut funding to the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project, citing land access issues, but it was far from the only energy project to take a financial hit.  There are a number of energy projects on the table, and with less funding, the state may have to pick and choose where it goes.

Chris Rose, Executive Director of the Renewable Energy Alaska Project, or REAP, says that the implications of decreased revenue are fairly simple.

“With less money, we’re going to be able to do less.” (more…)

Susitna Dam Budget Follow-Up

Friday, December 13, 2013


With a major cut to the budget for next fiscal year, questions are cropping up about what’s next for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.  It was one of a number of capital projects that will lose a great deal of funding if Governor Sean Parnell’s proposed budget is passed as-is by the state legislature.

According to both Governor Parnell and the Alaska Energy Authority, over $100 million would be needed to complete the studies and prep work for a FERC license to build the dam by September of 2015.  In the proposed budget, AEA will be receiving just $10 million for the Susitna-Watana project.  Shortly after the budget was released on Thursday, AEA spokeswoman Emily Ford said in an email that the timeline would be reviewed and projects prioritized to keep the process moving. (more…)

Governor’s 2015 Budget Slashes Susitna Dam Funding

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Governor Parnell’s state budget totals $12.4 billion, and includes drawing $1.1 billion from reserves.  Many capital projects saw significant cuts in the proposed budget, including the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.

According to Emily Ford, spokeswoman for the Alaska Energy Authority, $110 million dollars is needed for AEA to complete the necessary prep work for a license to build the dam.  Governor Parnell’s budget gives them $10 million. The FERC application is currently scheduled to take place in September of 2015, two months after the proposed budget ends.  In an email statement, Emily Ford says that AEA will be prioritizing field activities and adjusting the licensing schedule as needed, but will continue moving forward. (more…)

Mushers Express Concern That Denali Highway Will Be Plowed; Cruz Says it Won’t

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


The application for a permit to create a snow road from the Denali Highway to a spot near the proposed Susitna Watana Hydroelectric Project has drawn comments from community and environmental groups in the Susitna Valley.  Now, however, another group is adding its voice, dog mushers.

The permit for the winter route from the Denali Highway to the proposed dam site inevitably drew comment from groups opposed to the dam, including the Susitna River Coalition and the Talkeetna Community Council.  On Monday afternoon, word started circulating on social media that dog mushers were also concerned. (more…)

Susitna River Coalition Comments on DNR Permit for Winter Trail to Dam Site

Monday, December 2, 2013

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…)

AEA’s Wayne Dyok Answers Questions Regarding the Susitna Dam Studies

Friday, November 1, 2013


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…)

The Nature Conservancy Hires Consultants to Help With Dam Data

Monday, August 26, 2013


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…)

Climate Change Studies and the Susitna Dam

Friday, August 2, 2013

Audio: 20130802SuDam

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…)