JUNEAU — A key House committee Tuesday advanced plans for a proposed hydroelectric dam.
The move leaves five days left in this first session of the two-year Legislature for review by the full House and the Senate.
The bill would let the state’s energy offices finance, build and own the proposed Watana dam, which would straddle the Susitna River between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
The House Finance Committee pared much of the bill Tuesday, which as rewritten would no longer rebuild the Alaska Energy Authority as a standalone state agency. AEA would instead remain housed within the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.
The bill is House Bill 103.
Roads to Resources
Gov. Sean Parnell’s proposed funding for the Roads to Resources program remains within state spending plans — but just barely.
A Senate committee included the line item Monday in a batch of grants that would only be shared if the price of oil averaged $150 per barrel during the third quarter of 2011.
Most of Parnell’s $10.5 million proposal would help prepare for a road that would reach oil and natural gas reserves hugging the Brooks Range. State transportation managers say the so-called “Road to Umiat” would help companies fill the trans-Alaska oil pipeline for years.
The proposed project’s big step would be an 85-mile road from the Dalton Highway, about 350 miles north of Fairbanks, northwest toward the Gubik natural gas fields. Beyond those fields is Umiat, an airstrip with a few buildings near what could be a rich oil reservoir. Umiat also sits at the southeast boundary of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
Oil companies including Renaissance Alaska have explored the area and hold leases covering state land west of the Dalton Highway.
A pair of managers for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, citing industry estimates, said last month the fields could produce 50,000 barrels of crude oil per day — close to one-twelfth the volume flowing today through the pipeline — for three decades.
The ‘big’ pipeline
The proposed statewide capital budget, Senate Bill 46, would provide $60 million for reimbursements under the 2007 Alaska Gasline Inducement Act.
That’s $100 million less than had been discussed, but Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, said it would be enough to repay TransCanada through the end of the 2011 calendar year for work on a proposed natural gas pipeline.
The broader multibillion-dollar capital budget grew in size Monday, but questions have clouded the prospect that TransCanada’s proposed pipeline might be built anytime soon.
While the budget now holds less room for pipeline work, more money showed up Monday for alternative and renewable energy. The Senate Finance Committee, for example, boosted support for a renewable energy grant program by roughly 50 percent and included an additional $2.4 million for an emerging energy technology program started by the federal Denali Commission and overseen in part by state energy specialists.
Contact staff writer Christopher Eshleman at 459-7582.