Assembly backpedals on Eklutna dam tear-down

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A special meeting of the Anchorage Assembly is scheduled for Friday to allow the Assembly to backtrack on an earlier resolution that advocated for complete removal of the Eklutna Dam, which provides substantial water and power to Anchorage and power to the MatSu Valley.

The Friday meeting is at 12 pm in City Hall, Room 155. AR 2024-40 is item 5.B on the special meeting agenda.

The liberal Assembly had earlier chosen to push for the dam removal.

The dam review and plan is required by a 1991 agreement and has been in the works for years. The Assembly was on board with the Eklutna Tribe, which wants the dam removed and the salmon allowed to swim to the lake.

That Assembly stance was in place until the Assembly learned recently that the Eklutna Hydro Project, co-owned by three of the regions publicly owned utilities, and Anchorage Water and Waste Utility had signed a binding agreement, but when asked by the Assembly for the particulars, said it was confidential.

The secrecy of the agreement left some members of the Assembly who advocated for the dam to be removed with questions: How would that binding secret agreement affect property taxes?

As the Assembly is the body responsible for levying taxes, Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel said it’s time to hit the pause button on what the Assembly’s actual stance should be on the project, which she called a generational project akin to the Port of Alaska expansion.

The Assembly members Chris Constant, Zaletel, and Kevin Cross have provided a new resolution asking for a two-year extension on the plan to balance fish, power, water, and tribal rights. That resolution will also be a topic for Friday’s surprise meeting.

In actuality, the Assembly and the Municipality have little standing in the matter, since the Municipality, with support from voters, sold Municipal Light & Power to Chugach Electric. Further, nowhere in the 1991 agreement is the concept of “restoration” mentioned. That’s a relatively new approach that environmentalists have been pushing.

Rep. Jamie Allard of Eagle River had some thoughts on whether the Assembly was playing fast and loose with the public.

“The Anchorage Assembly’s continued demands calling for restoration of the Eklutna River – only made possible by removing the existing Eklutna Hydroelectric infrastructure – flies in the face of science, good government and common sense. Assembly members making those calls must not have read the 1991 Fish & Wildlife Agreement, because they continue to insist that ‘restoration’ is a consideration of the owners’ coalition. In fact, the only terms used are ‘mitigation’ and ‘enhancement’ of the waters below the dam; ‘restoration’ is nowhere to be found,” she said in a press release.

“Failing reading comprehension – or perhaps woke politics – are no reasons to risk 90% of the Municipality of Anchorage’s water supply, nor gut a reliable, dispatchable and low- cost, low-carbon-footprint energy solution for Southcentral Alaska. One only has to look at recent below-zero temperatures, energy demand and upcoming potential supply shortages to know that removing current energy resources is unwise,” Allard said.

To view the draft Eklutna Hydro Project Fish and Wildlife Program, click on this link.

Eklutna Draft Fish and Wildlife Program public meetings were held in January. To view the presentation from the public meetings, click here.

Public comments must be submitted by Feb. 19. Email your comment to [email protected].

In April, the project owners must submit a final proposed Fish and Wildlife Program to Gov. Mike Dunleavy for formal review. Dunleavy has until Oct. 2 to issue a final decision on the program.

Facts:

The Eklutna Hydroelectric Project is 30 miles northeast of downtown Anchorage. The three project owners are the Municipality of Anchorage, Chugach Electric Association, Inc., and Matanuska Electric Association, Inc.

It is the lowest-cost power in Southcentral Alaska, providing 44% of MEA’s renewable generation portfolio and 25% of Chugach Electric’s renewable generation portfolio. Eklutna offsets approximately 72,500 metric tons of CO2 equivalent each year.

The Project was constructed by the federal government in the 1950s and then sold to the project owners in the 1990s. 

At that time, concerns were raised about the dam’s impact on fish and wildlife. During the sale, a binding agreement was entered into by the project owners, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the State of Alaska (collectively the “Parties”) that requires the Project Owners to develop and propose to the Governor a program to protect, mitigate damages to, and enhance fish and wildlife impacted by the Project (1991 Agreement),” the executive summary states.

Since then, the Eklutna Tribe, membership 70, has become more influential, established government-to-government relations with Anchorage.

43 COMMENTS

  1. Leave my Damn Dam alone. It provides power for 28.000 homes. It provides Anchorage with 90% of its great water. It’s paid for 50 times over and it’s simple to maintain. Why mess with perfection. Wonder who is behind this stupidity.?? Eklutna group is smarter than this.. Anchorage needs to wake up and flush the assembly down the porcelain that goes without saying of course.

  2. The assembly members that were pushing for removing the dam need to be fired. This is all a fear tactic to get people to cave in. Instead, we have a cold spell and some assembly members become afraid. Ha. Fire them all! Drill baby drill.

  3. No idea how you could possibly justify a cost-benefit analysis as these left wing types do it these days.
    When they justify building ‘green energy’ projects, they downplay the higher consumer costs by playing up the ‘estimated’ (IE -made up) health benefits of the supposedly cleaner power. Essentially; “We think X number of people won’t get cancer, Y number of people won’t get asthma – so its worth $Millions! to build inefficient wind turbines over conventional sources.”

    So how is that going to work when leftists now want to do the exact opposite? The power would presumably be replaced with nasty, dirty Natgas or Coal generation – so how many bunny rabbits and kids will die so a few highway Indians can have seafood? How many thousands of cases of lung cancer will we have without the dam? Think of the children people!

    • Replace the Marxist 9 with the bunny rabbits. The bunnies have more intelligence, common sense, are cuter and I like them better. I would rather see them on the Assembly.

    • There is no fish in Cook Inlet anyway as the fish and feathers can’t figure out why?
      Everybody knows the fish return is dismal, and next to nonexistent so why does the dam need to go?
      Somebody has a stupid problem.

  4. Regardless of the power problem, where else is the muni to get its water? Build a new dam elsewhere for another special group to oppose? Why are elected leaders so incredibly stupid?

    • You all voted for these idiots Anchorage is getting more like Seattle and Portland because of the people you vote for.

    • Funny you should say that….according to Jamie Allard, (Mike Porcaro podcast 2/2/24 1hour3 minute in) the plan is not only the dismantling of the current infrastructure, but then have the state pay Eklutna Inc. to build a NEW dam.
      This deal isn’t about fish this deal is all about money and control!

  5. I thank the hand of nature to finally provide an edge to logic and common sense over this new woke politics crap that’s forced upon us. Too bad this arctic blast won’t last, keeping Anchorage temperatures in the -20’s for a few more weeks.

  6. Once again the Assembly shows their ignorance in the day to day life of Anchorage residents.,Do they really care about the residents of this city?

  7. In exchange for withdrawing all claims in perpetuity on the Eklutna watershed, allow the Eklutna village to build the casino they have wanted for many years.

    • I’ve said it for years. The casino could have a 50′ neon waving hand! Call it Happy Hands Casino! Dang, should I patent that??

    • Yeah, that’s like the Democrat Party opening the border to millions of “asylum seekers” in order to pressure the Republicans into “comprehensive immigration reform”, which is code for opening the border in black letter law to millions of “asylum seekers”.
      We’re overdue for a French style revolution. No cake, please. Lube up the guillotine………

    • All native claims were settled in 1971 with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
      Water is a natural resource and per our constitution belongs to ALL Alaskans.

  8. Our natural gas can barely meet demand, let’s go ahead and get rid of hydroelectric. Washington state is destroying many of their energy and farm irrigation providing dams. I’m sure it will work out well for them.

  9. The project was NOT constructed by the Federal government, it was originally constructed by Frank Reed in the late 1920s to provide power to a growing Anchorage. it is irritating that every time the Federal government expands on a really good idea from a private company, the credit is suddenly given to the government. The government is good a throwing money away on projects. If more private enterprise was allowed, everything we depend on would cost less.

    • The current project WAS constructed by federal funding. Frank Reed’s project was down lower in the canyon and mothballed 50 years ago (and now deconstructed). Much smaller in capacity.

    • Right now they are below zero and woke to the fact that we need heat & water for the homeless flop houses they are spreading all over.

  10. Yet the Left Coast continues to remove hundreds of dams including those providing electricity while espousing electric vehicles when they can’t provide enough electricity to keep the lightbulbs and AC on.

  11. Don’t think this is over. Progressives never accept defeat. They retreat, regroup, and return more determined.

  12. More to the point, Constant was undoubtedly warned in no uncertain terms about what will happen to Anchorage’s Ruling Class when they blow up Eklutna dam to appease 70 would-be casino owners, forcing 300K Anchorage residents to endure mid-winter electricity and water rationing.

  13. The power outage two nights ago that made half of Anchorage go dark and cold, plus the following plea from Enstar to use less gas in this cold weather, should be a wakeup call to the Elkutna dam tear-down nut cases. But I’m sure they won’t be able to connect the dots.

  14. ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7VpSKAffQI
    The Anchorage Assembly taking up the Eklutna Hydro Project.
    It’s not going good for two of the owners!
    #MOA #MEA #CEA
    Noon today till?

    • Terry, I just skimmed though the video for now. It sounds like two people in support of removing the dam were allowed to speak at that special meeting even though it was not open for public comment. Do you know if this is correct? Just curious.

  15. The dam is not going anywhere. The AWWU portal discharge is a good start. Next maintain a minimum discharge flow from the dam. Then construct a pool on upstream side of dam to maintain minimum pool depth when lake is drawn below spillway elevation.

    • The new woke left are not good faith debaters but rather are bad faith intentional wreckers of social order. The rational old left asked for clean water with no atmospheric pollutants. Hence glacier water from Eklutna that was locked up before air pollution arose from Greek and Roman mining was a wise choice. The rational old left wanted cheap clean hydro power. The woke left just takes a wrecking ball to almost everything. And the rational old left joins them for political solidarity except those who become independents or republicans. The woke left need to be thrown out of all elected office and anyone supporting them. They are mentally ill cultists and tricksters who have infected our nation.

  16. It’s mind numbingly painful how disassociated this “governing body” is that it doesn’t even understand one of the communities most important vital resources. This is knuckle-dragging mouth-breathing room temp IQ to even remotely suggest. It’s almost like some of them finally went to AWWUs site, looked at where the water comes from that they use to shower and went “oh wait, this affects me”. Tone deaf beyond belief.

  17. It’s awesome at – 35 and a looming energy shortage how fast everyone comes wide awake. Let’s just say we lost natural gas supply for 1 or 2 days at -30. Let alone electricity what in the heck does everyone think the outcome of that would be.? What’s the percentage of fools that are 100% reliant on 1 energy source of heat? In Alaska of all places. We are the furthest north state FYI. There is a huge difference in the quality of people that survived the march 1964 earthquake in sub zero temps. They were mostly self sufficient survivors. Anchorage dwellers without heat, electricity, food,water or transportation at -30. It’s all very possible. And we are letting politicians dictate our power sources.

  18. It’s taxation without representation w eklutna tribal council dismantling the Constitution for a everyone else… It’s also called deprivation of rights under color of law. Until all people are equally represented in these tribal compacts it’s taxation without representation -; there’s no remedy in law and they have gotten pretty much what they want by placing people in key positions – a reason to visit publicly certified elections for the tribal councils, the Alaska Federation of Natives and the Alaska native tribal health consortium, and the Alaska Native Health Board. They’re gerrymandering through our programs and we need to get the politicians out of our programs, at least healthcare and dump people like Valerie Davidson who tells people they don’t have to respect our civil rights instead of creating.more equitable laws and reducing regulations and allowing competition…. Oh and stopping Cook inlet region inc and the ancsa regional CEO’s to quit taking what isn’t theirs by not getting eto use our health information, work products, image likeness and stories without our consent for no their gain. The healthcare funding for Southcentral Foundation meant for.more than Cook inlet region inc is siphoning funds to coltsfoot. They’re distributing about 40 thousand dollars a year to shareholders while we have crappy outcomes in healthcare. Never should I have accepted a fellowship with them in 2014-2016. Corruption in regulations is what CIRI really is…

  19. Just correcting this sentence – stopping Cook inlet region inc and the ancsa regional CEO’s from taking what isn’t theirs, like our health information, work products, image likeness and stories without our consent for their gain including economic. I personally want the projects I started or worked on before they were awarded management to be removed from their control. Their violation was so complete and complicated I literally sent everything to the GOP oversight committee. Thanks for the assistance, inclusion and bad medicine! They’ve been studying everyone with Harvard and Boston children’s hospital for decades… I didn’t consent to this and want them held accountable – this is like the Tuskegee study because they excluded who they notified. They need to be treated within the law or risk losing your programs!

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