Even though the state legislature did not give additional funding to the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project this year, the Alaska Energy Authority has some funds left from previous years. AEA is attempting to continue the megaproject’s licensing process. KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more.
In response to a directive by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Alaska Energy Authority has filed a document that it says is a “roadmap” to the studies performed on the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric project from June 2014 onward.
The filing is the latest in an attempt by AEA to resume the integrated licensing process for the proposed hydroelectric megaproject.
The integrated licensing process is meant to provide a timeline and schedule for studies, reviews, and stakeholder meetings. That schedule was disrupted nearly a year ago after Governor Bill Walker took office. Walker ordered a halt to spending on six megaprojects in the state, including Susitna-Watana. This summer, the administration lifted that spending freeze.
While AEA is once again allowed to spend funds that were appropriated to Susitna-Watana in previous years, the legislature did not designate any additional funds to the project in its session early this year. The result is that the project has around $30 million available. Of that, AEA says that about $6 million was not already committed.
The current filing by AEA is a new section to the initial study report originally filed last year. In the filing, Susitna-Watana Project Manager Wayne Dyok states that the document will act as a “roadmap” to where progress currently stands on each of the fifty-eight studies included in the licensing process. Some stakeholders have asked that AEA be required to file a new initial study report, as thousands of pages of technical memoranda and addendums have been filed over the last year-and-a-half.
Now, FERC will decide whether the roadmap gives adequate information to government agencies, NGOs, and individuals to review the data before the public meeting review process resumes.