House Accepts Senate’s Susitna Hydro Bill

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

The House accepted a Senate bill taking the first steps toward a hydroelectric dam on the Susitna River, designed as a source of electricity for the entire rail belt.

The bill authorizes initial permitting and field studies. The capital budget contains $65 million to get the work started, but supporters estimate that the dam’s final cost will be more than $4 billion.

Anchorage Republican Lance Pruitt said that hydroelectric power is essential for the Railbelt’s future – and he reminded members to keep the project in their view.

Dillingham Democrat Brice Edgmon  reminded members that low-cost energy is a statewide goal.  He said prices are continuing to go up – to what he called the “Code Red levels” the state saw in 2008.

The bill also provides money for two smaller dams – both involve loans to build projects in Cordova and on Prince of Wales Island.

The bill passed both the House and Senate on unanimous votes.  It now goes to the governor.

Download Audio (MP3)