U.S. House approves Denali hydroelectric permit 

By Staff Reports of Fairbanks Daily News Miner
FAIRBANKS — The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Monday that would clear the way for a land exchange between the National Park Service and Doyon, Limited so the Fairbanks-based regional Native corporation can build a small hydroelectric plant to help power a backcountry lodge it owns in Denali National Park and Preserve.

The Kantishna Hills Renewable Energy Act of 2011 would authorize the secretary of the interior to issue permits for a hydroelectric project at the Kantishna Roadhouse, located at the end of the 92-mile Denali Park Road. The legislation would facilitate a 10-acre land exchange between the National Park Service and Doyon.

Alaska Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski introduced the same bill in the Senate more than a year ago. Rep. Don Young introduced the bill in the House of Representatives Monday, and it passed by a voice vote.

Doyon is proposing to build the hydro project on Eureka Creek, a small fishless creek near the roadhouse in the non-wilderness section of the 6 million-acre park. The project would include a 50-watt power plant, a small impoundment dam and a small pipeline to carry water.

Doyon currently uses a diesel generator to power the roadhouse, burning several thousand gallons of diesel each year for electricity at the lodge during the tourist season. The hydroelectric plant is expected to cut the amount of fuel Doyon uses to power the lodge almost in half.

“This is a win-win piece of legislation,” Young said. “Not only does my bill lower fossil fuel use in Denali, but it will also lower costs for lodge operators and visitors. Alaska has far too many resources to be burning diesel for electricity especially in a place where hydroelectricity can be developed.”

The power plant is expected to generate 40 to 50 kilowatts per hour.

Similar hydroelectric power plants are at the Eielson Visitor Center and Camp Denali, another backcountry lodge about 10 miles from the Kantishna Roadhouse.

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