Susitna Dam opponents say benefits not worth the cost

The Coalition for Susitna Dam Alternatives is hosting an informational session on Saturday, and they will be discussing a number of the many issues surrounding the proposed Susitna-Watana Dam, and ways public involvement might have an impact on the process. Some residents have expressed concerns that public input has been limited by the fast pace of the Dam’s licensing process, which evaluates environmental, engineering studies on a fast-pace.

The Alaska Energy Authority filed the Pre-Application Document, or PAD, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on December 29th. With the filing, the Dam has entered the formal licensing process, and a series of rapid deadlines must now be met by the AEA. There is some room for public involvement in the process, and, as the first community downstream of the proposed dam, Talkeetna residents are wary of the implications of the proposed 700-foot tall structure which would cost an estimated $4-and-a-half billion dollars, create a reservoir 39 miles long and up to two miles wide.

The AEA says the dam will be capable of producing 600 megawatts of electricity, but engineers on the project acknowledge that would only be in cases where the dam was running at full capacity – something hydroelectric dams rarely, if ever, do. It’s far more typical for dams to run at 30 to 50 percent of capacity, putting the Susitna dam’s energy output more in the 280 to 300 megawatts range.

Coalition for Susitna Dam Alternatives representatives Whitney Wolff says the 724-foot-tall Hoover dam has a capacity of 2,080 megawatts – three-and-a-half times the projected capacity of the Susitna dam. The benefit, she says, does not equal the cost.

Clip: Dam 1  30 seconds


The price tag for the project also doesn’t include the infrastructure for the project, says Coalition member Becky Long.

Clip: Dam 2 … 15 seconds


Project Manager for the Susitna Dam, Wayne Dyok, says he encourages the people in Talkeetna to stay involved in the process. He acknowledges it will be a long discourse, and says there is room for public input. Dyok as also realizes that some people have moved to Talkeetna to get away from everything, and there is room in the process to try and minimize impacts to people’s ways of life.



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