Cross-Border Energy Group Meets in Juneau

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

A group that wants to connect Southeast Alaska hydroprojects to Canada’s power grid is trying to drum up support.

The Alaska-Canada Energy Coalition meets all day Thursday in Juneau’s Centennial Hall. Its conference includes presentations from contractors, elected officials and hydropower advocates from both sides of the border.

The group supports development of new electrical-generation plants throughout the region, as well as power lines to connect them.

Paul Southland of Wrangell is coordinating the event.

“We’re bringing a message to the capital that Southeast Alaska has a huge economic development potential here with our hydroelectric resource. If we do this correctly we can supply low-cost power into our villages and we can also bring jobs into our region,” he says.

A cross-border power line gained support under Governor Frank Murkowski’s administration. But the state has shown less interest in recent years. And some in the region have opposed private development of the hydropower projects that would feed into the system.

Southland says recent commitments to expand British Columbia’s grid north have made the project more feasible. That includes plans to reach Bob Quinn Lake, about 100 miles northeast of Wrangell.

“There is a private Canadian company that has applied for a right of way from Bob Quinn to the U.S. Border. So we’re talking about a section of the line that would go from the U.S.-Canadian border to our Tyee facility,” he says.

The Tyee power plant is part of southern Southeast’s grid, which feeds Ketchikan, Petersburg and Wrangell.

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