Parnell Administration will continue to try for dam budget supplement

The Alaska Senate Finance Committee has rejected a bid by the Parnell administration to return a $32.7 million dollar supplement for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project to the capital budget.

On Monday, the committee initially removed the item from the budget, but did leave in Governor Parnell’s request for $10 million for the next budget year.  Governor Parnell’s office said on Monday that attempts would be made to get the funding reinstated.  On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee released another budget revision.  That version included substantial funding for a power plant at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, but nothing additional for Susitna-Watana.  Sharon Leighow, spokeswoman for Governor Parnell, said in an email statement Wednesday evening that another attempt will be made when the budget goes to the House Finance Committee for consideration.

Eleven of the project’s field studies are entirely dependent on the supplement, according to AEA, and another sixteen will have their scopes impacted if the funding stays out of the budget.  AEA is currently conducting a total of fifty-eight studies in order to apply for a license to build the 735-foot tall dam.  The current timeline predicts that the application will be ready for submission by the end of 2016.

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