Work Continues on Proposed Susitna Dam Project
Would provide energy throughout railbelt
ALASKA - It's a multi-billion dollar project to provide energy to the railbelt communities in Alaska: The Alaska Energy Authority is in the process of developing a license application to build a hydroelectric dam on the Susitna River.
Right now, the project is under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The commission is holding public meetings in Alaska to find out what studies need to be conducted as part of the approval process.
The current estimate for the cost of the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project is $4.3 billion.
The proposed project is located on the Susitna River approximately halfway between Anchorage and Fairbanks, and has some residents in the area worried about the environmental impact and the disturbance of their peaceful livelihood.
Supporters of the project say there are many benefits in the long run for our state's economy, and the energy produced by the hydroelectric project will be cleaner than other sources.
Other observers say much more investigation is needed into whether the billions of dollars the state will spend on the project is money well spent. Some say the billions should be spent on the development of natural gas in Cook Inlet instead.
But supporters of the dam say the project will pay for itself over time.
“It costs quite a bit in the front end to install it, but they last a long time, over 100 years; there is a generation facility in Juneau that is over 100 years old right now that is generating power that costs one-third of one cent per kilowatt hour," said Ira Perman, a supporter of the dam project.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is holding scoping meetings Wednesday in Talkeetna and Glennallen followed by Fairbanks and Cantwell on Thursday.