Susitna hydro moving on; AEA needs authority to pursue project 

From the Petroleum News: Parallel versions of Gov. Sean Parnell’s bill to give the Alaska Energy Authority the statutory authority to progress a plan to build a major hydropower system on the Susitna River have moved to the House and Senate Finance committees, having been reviewed by the House Special Committee on Energy and the Senate Resources Committee.

The state administration sees the development of a major Alaska hydropower system as a key requirement for achieving a target set by the state Legislature in 2010, to have half of the state’s power generated from renewable energy sources by 2025. And in November AEA recommended the construction of a large hydroelectric dam on the Susitna River, in remote territory on the south side of the Alaska Range, about 184 river miles upstream of the river’s mouth, to achieve the hydropower objective. As currently envisaged, the Susitna project would meet about half of the total Railbelt power demand.

With an AEA-estimated cost of about $4.5 billion and with a long project timeframe, the Susitna Dam, a somewhat scaled down version of a Susitna hydropower concept that was investigated in the 1980s, would require financial assistance from the state for its construction. And AEA is taking a lead in moving the project forward.

The agency has started conducting a gap analysis, assessing where the environmental investigations done in the 1980s Susitna hydropower studies need updating, and has also been conducting a series of open house meetings in Alaska communities, to enable the public to learn more about the project. Read more

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