By RICK WHITBECK | POWER THE FUTURE
The Eklutna Dam currently provides the least expensive energy to Southcentral Alaska’s residents and businesses, but that might be a thing of the past if activists get their way this year.
A group of environmental organizations, collaborating with the Native Village of Eklutna, have called for the removal of the dam, to potentially revitalize a salmon run that the collective believes has been harmed by the dam’s presence.
Currently, 6% of the overall power generated by Chugach and Matanuska Electric comes from the Eklutna hydroelectric project. Along with that generation, nearly 90% of Anchorage’s drinking water also comes from the lake and associated flow from the project, making the project a critically important piece of infrastructure.
The owners – Chugach Electric, Matanuska Electric and the Municipality of Anchorage – have been engaged on a renewal of a 1991 agreement dealing with fish and wildlife management associated with the project. After spending nearly four years studying various mitigation plans – and engaging with both required and additional stakeholders impacted by the dam’s presence – they have developed a draft plan that lays out a compromise among competing proposals and a solid path forward; best suited to meet all the requirements of the original agreement.
But, even after all the consultation with the environmentalists and others, the collective wants the dam removed, with little concern over the impacts to power, water or costs.
The owners are holding a series of public meetings to get input on the draft plan. For all our readers and followers in Southcentral Alaska, please make plans to attend one or more of them.
Soon, a final draft will go to Gov. Mike Dunleavy, whose administration will make the final call on how to move forward. The activists are commenting; don’t let their voices be the only ones the governor hears.
The meeting dates, times and locations are:
- January 16 –Palmer Community Center (Depot), from 2 pm to 4 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm
- January 17 –Arctic Rec Center (Anchorage), from 2 pm to 4 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm
- January 18 – The Workplace & Event Center (Eagle River), from 2 pm to 4 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm
For more information on the project, to see the draft proposal and to learn more, you can visit www.eklutnahydro.com.
Rick Whitbeck is Alaska state director for Power the Future.