Governor pushes Susitna hydro project in campaign speech

In a campaign speech addressing Fairbanks Republicans last Friday, Governor Sean Parnell pushed to advance major hydroelectric projects like the proposed Susitna Dam and as well as coal mining in the Mat-Su area.Parnell said that in order to meet the state’s goal of having half of Alaska’s electricity generated by renewable resources by 2025 – a goal set by his predecessor Sarah Palin – the state needs to work on all options. For Parnell, this includes the controversial concept of damming the Susitna River.

Parnell said that a large scale hydro project would provide low cost electricity for the Interior and the Railbelt.

Alaska Energy Authority consultants have done the math and priced the construction costs of a dam near Watana at nearly $6.6 billion and a dam site near Devil’s Canyon at an estimated $5.4 billion. The state legislature has included the project in their state energy plan and allocated additional funding for further study of the project.

According to AEA spokesman Karsten Rodvik, the  50 percent figure of energy produced from renewables was announced following input from Energy Authority staff who had determined this is an achievable goal, considering that Alaska is already meeting 24 percent of its electric power generation from renewable resources.

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