Anchorage Assembly to ask Legislature to support dismantling Eklutna power supply to Anchorage

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The Anchorage Assembly will ask the Alaska Legislature to support the restoration of the Eklutna River, which means dismantling part or all of the hydropower dam that provides electricity to Anchorage.

The Assembly supports removing 47 megawatts of electricity from the greater Anchorage bowl. According to municipal documents, Eklutna provides enough energy to power more than 24,600 residential homes for an entire year. Eklutna hydroelectric power is the lowest cost renewable energy in Southcentral Alaska.

“The Municipality concurs with the Native Village of Eklutna’s priority to restore salmon habitat,” the Assembly document reads. “The Native Village of Eklutna (NVE) and its partners have been working toward full restoration of the Eklutna River, which is a critical salmon habitat in Southcentral, for many years, and have identified potential cost savings and fund sources. Not only is full restoration of the river the right thing to do to respect the vision, subsistence needs and culture of the people who have stewarded this land long before the dams existed, it also has huge economic potential with recreation and tourism opportunities in the area.”

Yet after asking the Legislature to help get the dam removed, the Assembly continues on to discuss the dire need of Anchorage for electricity.

“Alaska’s Southcentral region faces a looming energy crisis that threatens to impact not only Anchorage residents but also its economy. At the heart of this crisis is the depletion of natural gas reserves in the Cook Inlet oil and gas basin, long the primary source of energy for the area,” the Assembly writes. “In the next eight years, Southcentral Alaska is expected to run out of available gas, making it imperative for state leaders and decision-makers to take immediate and strategic actions to prevent an energy crisis.”

The Assembly continues, “We strongly encourage the Legislature and the Governor to craft sound policy that ensures Anchorage can meet the gas and electrical needs of its citizens, businesses, and schools. These policy changes must prioritize energy reliability and affordability. Because there is no time to waste, we urge swift, bipartisan action during the 2024 legislative session.”

“The Left is confusing. They hate fossil fuels, and I guess they hate hydro too. You would think the cleanest, most sustainable energy source out there would be exactly what the radical green movement would champion, but not in this case,” said Rick Whitbeck, Alaska state director for Power the Future.

The Anchorage legislative priorities booklet is at this link.

For some reason, the mayor has attached his name to this legislative request program.

Other priorities of the Anchorage Assembly are having the governments in Alaska return to a defined benefits retirement program for all municipal, borough, and state employees. That pension program ended by legislation in 2006, after it was discovered that the state pension plan didn’t have enough money to even meet the needs of existing retirees. The state is still trying to fund it, and currently has about 72 cents for every dollar owed to existing members of that old plan. Public employees are now enrolled in individual retirement accounts, rather than defined pensions. Many defined benefits plans around the country have gone bankrupt after being underfunded.

The document also asks the Legislature to increase the formula for public schools, known as the Base Student Allocation. The governor has not increased the BSA since he has been in office because it ties the hands of future legislatures. But he has added one-time funding ever year.

The Assembly will also push the legislature to pass legislation that gives the municipality the authority to punish property owners who don’t maintain their properties to whatever regulatory standards are set locally. The “blighted property” legislation is the brainchild of Sen. Forrest Dunbar of Anchorage and has the support of some who are close to Mayor Dave Bronson. The plan would give municipalities the authority to enact a blight tax and to define the meaning of “blight,” as they wish. Something that seems blighted in Anchorage might not seem blighted in Bethel.

The legislative priorities document leads off with an ask for continued support for the Port of Alaska, which handles 75 percent of all non-petroleum, Alaska in-bound marine cargo, and more than 39 percent of all refined petroleum products used in Alaska. The Port directly serves 90 percent of the state’s population, and is a priority of Mayor Bronson.

The document also asks the Legislature for a $10 million capital appropriation for “Housing Alaskans,” a public-private partnership, and $4 million operating budget request to help pay for a year-round homeless shelter, “location pending.”

The legislative request document also asks the governor to update the “Alaska’s Plan to End Long Term Homelessness.”
The plan, which is described as the counterpart to Anchorage’s Anchored Home Plan, ended in 2019. Ownership of this plan currently lies with the Alaska Council on the Homeless and its last progress report was in 2018.

“As the state’s designee to carry out the day-to-day management of the Balance of State Continuum of Care program, the Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness could be formally designated to oversee the plan, including conducting the plan update and providing ongoing progress reports on the plan,” the municipality’s document says.

As for the mental health needs of Anchorage, the municipality is asking for a grant of $650,000 to pay for integrated medical and behavioral health outreach services.

“The Municipality requests this funding to bring back holistic outreach services to include basic street outreach, medical services, and behavioral health services. No services currently exist for behavioral health outreach, which had been previously provided but was ended due to staffing and budgeting issues.”

The Assembly also wants a change in state labor laws to allow behavioral health staff to work 12-hour shifts, due to workforce shortages.

“Currently, behavioral health providers face significant workforce shortages, but unlike nurses who are able to work 12-hour shifts, other behavioral health staff must be paid overtime for 12-hour shifts, making it unaffordable for most providers. Behavioral health workers have requested this change in state law to assist them in better providing their services to the community. Could potentially be incorporated into HB 204 and SB 153 to exempt certain employees from overtime pay requirements,” the Assembly document says.

80 COMMENTS

  1. Jim Jones is running Anchorage.

    I say do it. Get rid of the dam, the power it provides. Let Anchorage choke on the decades of stupidity they elected into office.

    You got the government you deserve, Anchorage.

    • Unfortunately, those in Chugiak & Eagle River, generally more conservative, will choke too. They shouldn’t suffer the consequences of the fools that voted in these asses. Sadly, we’re all in this boat together. Too many ignorantly & blindly choose to ‘not get involved in politics’ completely misunderstanding they should be controlling the politics!

  2. It isn’t for the Eklutna Restoration but for the plans to put in new Development by the tribal persons and board for the new Eagle Exit Plans. Anchorage needs to say no to this. The cost of electricity just went up in cooperation with development of the Eagle Exit and the real estate sales, that will be the revenue getter of the day for Eagle Exit. Eagle River has no money resources and needs to bring on more people living there. Therefore, the new game in town is the Eklutna Development project for housing. Not for your electricity or your wallet of the environment. Bait and switch….

    • You make want to look into who is actually getting the power from Chugach Electric. I don’t know where Eagle River gets it’s power but Chugiak power source is MEA not even associated with the municipality.

      • MEA owns part of the Eklutna Power Plant. Chugach Electric and MOA also own part of it but I am interested to know if the MOA portion was transferred to Chugach in the ML&P sale.

        • Excellent question, Robert.
          According to the Muni the MOA RETAINED their ownership share of the Old Eklutna hydro-power plant after the sale of ML&P.
          MEA has their own generation plant they built back in 2012 (if memory serves), when the long-term agreement with Chugach ran out. The new MEA plant runs on natural gas not hydro-power. While it is also located in the Eklutna area, it is NOT the same plant as the old Eklutna Power Plant on the Old Glenn Hwy

          • MEAs plant is made up of 10 diesel generators and built in 2016. They still maintain a percentage of Eklutna Power Project.

          • Savannah, I toured the new Eklutna Generation Station, when it opened in May of 2015. If I remember correctly the facility construction was started sometime late 2012 or 2013. It is a duel fuel facility. Their main fuel source is natural gas, but it can also utilize Diesel.
            I am aware that MEA retains a part of the old hydro-power plant, as it was from its inception a joined ownership facility between MOA, Chugach and MEA.

        • This is what I found:
          “MOA Anchorage Hydropower Utility”
          2021 Proposed Utilities/Enterprise Activities Budget
          The MOA is selling Municipal Light & Power (ML&P) and with the closing of the sale transaction to Chugach Electric Association, Inc. (CEA), the nature of the electric service provided by the MOA will immediately convert from the provision of retail electric service to a significant portion of Anchorage, through generation, transmission, and distribution facilities, to the far more limited provision of wholesale generation service through long-term contracts with two utility customers.
          MOA’s ownership interest in the generation assets of the Eklutna Hydroelectric Project (“Eklutna Project”) will not be transferred to CEA and will be retained by the MOA, as the Anchorage Hydropower Utility.

        • MOA still owns 53% water rights to Eklutna. The affect of the ML&P sale split the MOA shares to MEA and Chugach because MOA didn’t want to manage it.

      • Are you kidding me.?? What do you think there are separate power lines running from these power plants. It’s all hooked to the inter-tie. Some lady in Homer thought the only power they got on the peninsula was from Bradley lake. It’s amazing to me how ignorant people are on the most important piece of infrastructure we have.

  3. If this group is so concerned about the health of the salmon, why not just outlaw commercial and sport fishing? If they think a hydro plans is hard on the salmon, they should see what fishing does to them.

  4. Having existing cheap power sources do not help the green agenda of adding wind and solar. They must raise the existing prices so their projects pencil out.

    • Insightful. Energy is so plentiful and affordable in most of the US these days, solar and wind looks silly. BUT, if they could raise the prices, then it DOES look smart.

  5. Radical leftists are always ratcheting up the level of insanity and death-cultism.

    I want no part of the perverse and impossible world that you are trying to build — nor no part of the real, actual, physical world that you are doing your best to destroy.

    • I keep wondering how long before the Politburo starts expelling people. Or worse.

      Neither one of us would be surprised if Constant turns out to have an undesirables list.

      The “utopia” the Politburo wants to create simply can’t sustain a city population.

  6. Having Behavioral Health Specialists work 12 hour days would simply be detrimental to the workers’ mental health and may likely lead to ill health effects-that population they’re working with are very unstable.

    But logical reasoning does not work with the Asssmbly members or else they wouldn’t propose shelving power to almost 25k Anchorage citizens unless there is alternative power IN PLACE already. Most likely this is seed planting for their ill-advised WEF plans to electrify the world.

  7. Even a broken clock…
    Damming rivers for hydroelectric power generation is poor stewardship of creation. Find another way or do with less.

      • I would and I do, although why ignore the “find another way” part of that comment? Plenty of better ways to generate power without damming rivers. Why is the supposedly conservative position always “Consume everything in sight by any means necessary no matter the cost! More, more, more! If those damn greenies are against it then I’m all for it!” We have been placed in a position of authority over nature and have a duty to not abuse that position and to manage the world around us responsibly and carefully and to not pillage it for our own selfish desires. We should quit making the “conservative” position just a reaction against whatever the leftists are pushing at any given time. We have better principles than that. Wanton wastefulness is not a virtue. Endless consumption is just another form of hedonism and the left is all about giving in to that! Give in to one form of it and you might as well give into all of them. They love pointing out when we are hypocrites and their criticism of us in that regard is often right.

        • I read your comment several times and never saw where you answered the question from VOS. Your response started well, “I would and I do”, but no details. This is so typical of the arm flapping and tongue wagging that always happens by the pseudo environmentally conscious armchair activist decrying the use of our existing energy generators, but never offering any substantial, real, or grid sized workable plan. Meanwhile, you sit in your gas heated house typing away on your gas powered computer before getting into your gas powered EV and driving to the store to purchase whole health foods that have been transported to Alaska by burning fuel, either diesel or jet fuel.

          • I think you have the wrong impression of me. Regardless, I don’t really need to detail to you (or VOS for that matter) how many KW of electricity or cu ft of gas my house uses. My point is that there are good and bad ways of procuring energy. “Fossil fuels” (a misnomer) like oil and gas are superior to hydroelectric primarily because we can obtain them without significant negative effects on our other resources. Same with wood and perhaps even coal! How about we pump oil out of ANWR instead of damming rivers or putting up ugly, stupid, virtue-signalling windmills on Fire Island?

        • You are correct on your response with Victim of Spendowitz but may I add, all the problems we have from mass migration to fossil fuels, fisheries decline, on and on comes to one point, over population.

          • 3rd. I’m so glad you mentioned overpopulation. There is not one significant social or environmental problem that couldn’t be eliminated or diminished by a reduction in population.

          • Paola, please define “overpopulation”?
            You think that the state of Alaska with less than 800,000 people is overpopulated?
            There is a really easy fix for overpopulation. Everyone, who thinks there are too many people on the planet, doesn’t procreate and only uses the bare minimum of resources by their choice.

    • Uh, how do you figure that?
      Especially since we were given dominion over the Earth by God.

      Your attempt at a pseudo religion argument falls brutally flat.

    • Stewardship is using resources responsibly, not refraining from using them at all. Hydroelectric dams are a clean, renewable source of electricity that actually work all of the time (as opposed to only when it’s sunny or windy).

    • Okay, and we’re headed toward 100% electrification. Solar panels in winter won’t help much. Like to hear some ideas.

    • 1st, damning water is not abuse to creation
      2nd, this isnt the movies, we can’t just “come up with something different”

      Both statements are utter sophmoric.

  8. Well we need to make sure the power to Eklutna gets turned off.
    On the city strong armed tax for property that doesn’t meet their likes they need to tax the homeless.
    To much government telling us how to live. I don’t want or need some bureaucrat deciding if my lawn needs mowed.

    • I think it’ll go beyond overgrown grass and eye sore properties. This is the crowd who’d start fining unweatherized homes for being “blight” and using too much energy because of leaks.

    • Don’t blame them. Blame the idiots the voters of Anchorage keep electing.

      If you really want to be honest, blame the people of Anchorage for electing those morons.

      People get the government they deserve.

      • Agree, but the Eklutna Tribe is getting used by the enviro groups. Bottom line is the Tribe is causing a massive rate increase in use of natural gas, which will have to be imported.

        • Not the tribe, but Eklutna CORPORATION. Two entirely different entities, with Eklutna Corporation being “native” mostly in name only, and just as short-term-profit-oriented as any other rapacious and predatory corporation.

          Tell me about Alaskan Natives and their “respect for the land” after seeing the many, many acres of decimated, strip-mined, torn-up land that is the direct result of activities by Eklutna Corporation, including the giant barren crater that sits directly next to Eklutna Village itself. Make me laugh!

    • I’m not ruled by anyone except God himself and I will never let them think they rule me that may cause some discomfort on their behalf.

      • Then you don’t vote and defy the law.

        In doing so you defy the commands of Jesus.

        Most people here who bleat their Christianity send more time studying the menu at Wendy’s than scripture.

        • I have voted in every election since moving to Chugiak 12 years ago. I did not vote for the communist on the Anchorage Assembly. I vote to limit the size of government not increase it. The Assembly would bankrupt a business if they owned one and have told them this in correspondences with them several times including the lackey Dunbar. None of them understand the first thing about finances.

    • Where are you going to go? The entire world is in this toilette, not just Anchorage. People need to stay and fight to keep their cities instead of running.

  9. Best stop the Flow on the 54” Water main coming from Eklutna Lake to Anchorage also, If your going to commit suicide May as well go all out!

  10. I’ve heard there is still gas in Cook Inlet but the incentives to invest in its harvest are dwindling. Would you want to invest in gas when you have to deal with all the burocratic regs by the Feds and it appears the federal Gov wants to ban gas appliances the sooner the better.

  11. “Other priorities of the Anchorage Assembly are having the governments in Alaska return to a defined benefits retirement program for all municipal, borough, and state employees. Many defined benefits plans around the country have gone bankrupt after being underfunded.“ A defined benefit pension guarantees a specified retirement benefit regardless of how well or poor the pension fund performs and, because of this, defined benefit plans are the preferred choice of any government retiree. Stability. Unfortunately the rest of us have only defined contribution pension plans where the government tells us how much we can put into our pension fund every year and the amount we can draw out in retirement depends entirely on how well our pension fund performs. Instability. With the defined benefit pension funds a primary reason they end up being “underfunded” is because fund managers like to overestimate expected returns on investments to reduce the contributions needed from the worker AND the employer – both get to keep more in their own pockets and that makes everyone happier. When investments do well, like they do when the federal government pumps trillions in excess liquidity into the economy, the expected returns meet expectations and all is well but when economic hard times hit, like when those trillions in stimulus eventually result in runaway inflation and investment losses, the funds miss their projected returns and the funds become “underfunded.” Now the various governments are forced to take more from their citizens to cover the shortfalls to be able to provide those loved defined benefits. See how it works? Who thinks that economic hardship times AREN’T just starting? So, obviously, the SMART move is to reinstate defined benefit pension plans just before the economy tanks. Bravo Anchorage Assembly! You’re really showing off your intelligence.

  12. If you think your electric bill is high now, just wait and let this measure pass. I find it hard to understand the Eklutna Tribe’s thinking that this issue is good for its people and all natives. Since natives too will also have higher electric costs could this not equate out to possibly more homeless in the future. One of the cleanest forms of energy is being shut down. What is the reasoning? We will get enough energy from the turbines, or from the solar panels going across the land here in Alaska. It would be interesting to find out the actual power generated this past year with the cloud layers we had all summer or even the turbines if rebates were not being used. How is the upkeep of this clean energy paid for after the subsidies run out? Inching higher costs?

  13. The problem we have with salmon is that they’re not returning. It has very little to do with dams. Predation and foreign trawlers might be a good place to look.

  14. Mentally challenged children are busy trying to solve adult issues. SCARY outcomes are expected on the backs of property tax and rate payers.
    History repeats itself…
    The roaring twenties are back.
    Helter Skelter racial wars are in the planning stages.

  15. Eklutna village, established in the early 1900s and originally called “New Knik “, is not the original home for the few remaining descendants of these people. It was where the government moved them when they built a trade school and orphanage in the early days of Alaska, to make it more accessible to the new railroad.So the history is really not that deep. And modern times permit fishing beyond ones back door. The dam and power plant are essential to the existence of the Anchorage area and would have to be replaced before removal. Have not heard about that plan. There was once a plan to dam the Eagle River but don’t see that happening so I guess a desalination plant could provide water to Anchorage. The population density would prohibit wells. The dam in Eklutna would have to be removed to restore the small run of salmon that was once available, removing the water source for all of Anchorage. For the benefit of less than 100 people who have no more ties to this land than the rest of us. Brilliant. The goal of this assembly makes little sense as always. Perhaps they have investments that will personally benefit from their ideas.

    • P.S. Seems to me the Spirit Houses at Eklutna Village have been there long before the early 1900s, maybe before 1,200 AD? Long before the Russians arrived in the 1840s. By the way, I once read that the Eklutna Dena’ina allowed the ABSD to rent the land on which Chugiak High School was built for $1.00/yr since the early 1970s if not before. As to the point of ‘dominion over the land’, recall that parable about the steward? Good stewardship requires planning, foresight, and avoidance of destruction.

      This legislative session agenda is packed, putting pedal to the metal, it seems. As just one example of a topic, funding for Behavioral Health must include funding for the State guardians, as well as API, out-patient follow-up care, and encompass matters such as where folks go after discharge, judicial system matters that involve more than just jails and prisons, etc. (Like the Matanuska Maid Dairy supplier, folks with ongoing mental treatment issues must seek care out-of-state. It would only be reasonable to expect funding assistance from AK for this.

      • Mrs N,
        I think that the Dena’ina folks are fairly recently arrived in the area having come from the Copper River Basin. Sadly upon arriving the Dena’ina people began a process of colonization and conquest which drove the poor folks who had occupied this region for some 6,000 years the H E double golf sticks out. You know, kind of like what Whitey did, only with no housing or healthcare or even a Corporation!

        People are so darn heartless.

      • The Dena’ina people were said to have had a war and drove the original Eskimo people out of the Knik drainage in the last 150 years. The original village was by Old Knik, across the Arm from its present site, renamed Eklutna by white mapmakers. Originally it was New Knik.1200AD? No Russians or their churches yet. The cemetery is not that old. We should all keep fishing.

  16. The reality is that Cook Inlet gets a huge amount of water from the Knik, Matanuska, and Susitna River drainages and the comparative pitance that flows from the Eklutna, if it was allowed to flow freely, would be negigable. Eklutna was a CREEK in 1927, so I wonder when they started calling it a river? And the MOA sold their interest oin the Eklutna Power Plant in 2018 in an agreement signed by Bill Falsey. This a fools errand embarked on by a bunch of fools and the rate payers will pay for it.

      • Are you kidding me.?? What do you think there are separate power lines running from these power plants. It’s all hooked to the inter-tie. Some lady in Homer thought the only power they got on the peninsula was from Bradley lake. It’s amazing to me how ignorant people are on the most important piece of infrastructure we have.

  17. Lots of good comments but be clear that Eklutna has fish in the river now. They want the dam removed to let them spawn in Eklutna Lake. Eklutna water treatment supplies most of the Anchorage residents and a lesser percentage of Chugiak Eagle River. The dam removal take a large amount of water storage away from Anchorage. The amount has not been provided in press releases. Instead the focus is on power. MEA touts that they will replace the reliable hydropower with more expensive renewables I.e. wind and solar. Blah!! Are they nuts? I think so. In summary, they want to cut our cheap power for more expensive, unreliable power and drop our water supply and water quality to let salmon spawn in the lake. This is just dump woke thinking.

    • Snoddy, I think it is ludicrous to even suggest that salmon could, or ever have, spawned in Eklutna Lake itself. How would they ever negotiate the several major waterfalls on Eklutna River?

      All this talk about destroying the Eklutna power plant in order to “restore” the salmon on Eklutna River is pure disingenuous malarkey.

      How many salmon EVER spawned in the very short and small section of Eklutna River that was ever accessible to them? A few dozen, maybe? So we are going to destroy a significant power source in order that a handful of Alaskan Natives can harvest what, a couple of dozen salmon annually? The specious argument is intellectually and morally insulting.

  18. And I’m sure they have a plan to replace the nice clean power they are going to do away with. ???? And shortly Anchorage will have decaying salmon in your drinking water as well ah what a great deal.

  19. I got to say, wouldn’t it be awesome to turn the power off completely for a few months starting mid January it would be an enlightening experience for everyone. There is absolutely nothing more important in modern society than electricity, it is also the most vulnerable & neglected piece of infrastructure we have. I would be willing to bet if we lost all our electricity in January or February for 1 month 20% of our population would die within 4 weeks. Our power distribution system is not to be messed with. We need multiple sources of energy to be safe. We do not currently have that. For most city dwellers it’s like playing Russian roulette. Of course they are oblivious until something goes wrong.

  20. I’ll get behind this proposal! But first, I want all the Eklutna Tribal members and Anchorage assembly reps to physically disconnect their electrical mains and lock out the boxes with utility-supplied car tags…which will make it a crime when they cut the tags and flip the main breakers back on. They can live without power for a while and THEN when they come back and tell us all how great life is without electricity… I’ll run out and throw my breakers too.

  21. The difference between me and 100% of the assembly members and eklutna tribe members is that I have ACTUALLY lived without electricity for short periods of time. Rural Oregon, mid-1990s… every time a problem happened in a nearby city, our public util would “de-prioritize” the rural community in favor of restoring power in the denser populated areas. We frequently went for days with no power. Kerosene lamps for light, cooking on top of the wood stove, boiling water for sponge baths, etc. I mean… on that level it was quaint. But we didn’t rely on C-Pap machines to sleep, electricity to charge our phones (emergency calls?), Internet to do our banking. I’d just be so thrilled to see someone from Chugach run out there and say, “you first, folks!” And throw the breaker at the neighborhood ped and just shut Eklutna off in one swoop. Whoopsie Daisy🙃

  22. The more important issue is drinking water.
    To my knowledge there is no other water reservoir providing drinking water to the city. Without water there is no sanitation, food prep, hygiene, heat etc. unless you all want to drill wells in the city, if there is even an aquifer so close to the inlet. Ship creek, Eagle River and Campbell Creek do not carry enough volume to supply the city and would have to be dammed, again impacting already existing salmon runs. This whole endeavor seems hugely disproportionate to allowing a few residents to catch salmon closer to home instead of making the trek to the Kenai or places a little further afield.

  23. Seems like “…dismantling Eklutna power supply to Anchorage” would be a ready- made recipe for civil unrest, even regime change.
    .
    Cut power in winter, just before a national election, impose martial law when people object… don’t see how this ends well.

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