Can the Eklutna Dam be removed?

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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.

38 COMMENTS

  1. Fishing @ New Sagaya is much more cost efficient and effective! Plus, it just makes much more logic, reason, and common sense!
    Maybe(?), the Tribe could pursue farmed fishing as a more progressive approach, generating greater profits and providing significant and meaningful year-round jobs for their members, as well as providing a healthy means of locally grown protein for South Central?

        • You are right, it is a controlled environment.

          People control how much space those farmed fish have to swim in, how fresh/clean the water in the tanks are, what those farmed fish eat, etc.

          Maybe it is because I have grown up eating wild fish, but I can tell with my eyes closed the difference between farmed and wild fish.

          Farmed fish tastes and feels different in hand. I’ll pass on the farmed fish and whatever chemicals those farmed fish have ingested via the food pellets fed to them or the unsanitary conditions many tanks of farmed fish are forced to live in.

          Also, farmed salmon are force fed caratine (the compound that makes carrots and wild salmon orange) so that their flesh looks orange when processed. Otherwise, they would just be grey fillets. Wild salmon get that orange color because they eat shrimp and krill in the ocean.

  2. Coming during an age of supposed impending energy doom when electricity is supposed to be our only salvation, this movement is about as stupid as it gets.

  3. The question shouldn’t be can it be removed. Of course it can. The question should it be removed. Absolutely not.
    1st, I wonder where the millions of dollars would come from for this demo?
    2nd, Who would be able to utilize the fish if & when they reintroduced?
    3rd, If they are successful in reintroducing salmon, would all Alaskans be able to fish this equally?
    4th, Who would fund this reintroduction?
    These are just a few of the questions that I would like answers too at these upcoming meetings.
    I think a few of these questions can be answered just by following the money. to see who’s to gain.

    • 5th, what are we going to do with all the bodies of those who die of thirst? I suppose we can give up taking showers. 😉

      • A rather bland reality that Anchorage seems to be perfectly ignorant of. All they know is that when they open the faucet, water appears like magic. They have no idea how it gets there or where it’s coming from. But remove the dam because the natives are restless? Sure! Why not?

    • In response to questions 1-4, you have to look no farther than the Eklutna Tribe. There are members who want to tear down the dam, rebuilt it on Eklutna Corporation land, and live off the rental until they get their casino. They also believe they would have exclusive access to any reds up the stream like Washington State tribes have to salmon down there. I would guess they believe the feds (Lisa and Mary) would fund the reconstruction under their green energy grift. Cheers –

  4. Eklutna should remove their heads from the sand and educate themselves as to how this will effect their village. I, for one, choose not to pay for their electric power if they cannot afford it because of their choice to remove the dam; likewise their water. They need to compare their increase in costs vs income and make sure they can sell enough fish to pay for their needs. Might be an eye opener if they use the right data. Dam removal is a reduculous idea!

    • LOL!!! This jumble made me laugh. Hints:
      1. Eklutna is not the power company. It’s a village, and a group of people.
      2. Unless you’re going off the grid, you’ll still be buying power from the actual power company
      3. They’ve spent years going over cost benefit analyses, none of which involve anyone selling fish. BTW,
      thinking that anyone is selling fish in this equation the most hilarious part of your whole analysis – nice job!

      Please comment more – the entertainment value is high!

  5. One wonders if these so called environmental groups are:

    1. Incredibly stupid.
    2. Front groups covering for some other interests.

    Hydro is renewable. There’s no CO2 emissions. There’s no pollution of any kind. No air pollution, no water pollution. And these morons want to destroy it?

    These people are not credible. Maybe they represent the coal interests? Less hydro= more coal combustion to power the railbelt grid. Coal emits CO2, NOX, mercury, strontium, lead, and even the radioactive isotopes of the heavy metals such as uranium- found in the coal beds in the ppm range.

    These morons need to be called out, and shamed.

  6. Having worked both for the city and the electric utility, i have to ask about emergency operations.
    Is there a replacement IN PLACE that will generate the same quality energy PRIOR to retiring this amazing asset? Or is Alaska going to continue to throw away yet another viable resource over these climate cultists? Climate tzars?
    Governor Dunleavy, please review all emergency operations plans, whether they be a cyber or natural disaster plan, for our cities. Eklutna dam becomes a reliable and viable aternative for our state during emergency operations.
    Please consider this before allowing yet another asset be destroyed in the name of destruction.
    Thank you.

  7. Removing the dam shouldn’t even be a consideration. It’s way past time to tell these activists to pound sand. If this is ultimately Dunleavy’s call he should just laugh at the ridiculousness of it and drop it in the trash.

  8. Removing the dam will not restore water flow to Eklutna River by itself. Eklutna Lake water levels are drawn down in the winter and spring below the lake overflow level by the hydroelectric plant. Dam removal would reduce the storage capacity of the lake – reducing annual energy production.

  9. Our rates will go up and they’re also going to go up when they start importing gas in the next couple years. So between removing that power plant and having to import gas, they’re going to see a large increase in your electric bill.

    • Rates are going up regardless because Chugach buffooned money made on the ML&P sale, spending it on salaries and IBEW rather than paying bills and investing in new generation.

      Costs may or may not go up based on Natural Gas imports. All depends on the contracts signed and duration of the contracts. We were in this boat in 2007, expecting to have to import. Got lucky with discovery of more NG in Cook Inlet. In some ways we are better off this time around, as we now have a storage facility and the rest of the world is awash in NG. How the actual numbers work out is anyone’s guess.

      OTOH, if the newly elected greens on the Chugach Board get their way and build new solar and wind generation, costs will go up. A lot. Cheers –

  10. If the activist get their way, and take it out, your electric rates will go up. Also, your electric rates are going to go up when they start importing natural gas because of all the boondoggle not align us to produce our gas from the inlet. So between removing the power plant and having to import gas, your electric bill is going to go way up.

  11. You must accept transgender bathrooms, queers wearing drag in front of your children, and a wheelchair accessible ramp to the top of Denali!
    If you don’t accept this mother nature will not blow the wind to power your netflix!
    ~Anchorage assembly this coming Tuesday

  12. One fact that seems to get overlooked in this insane debate over destroying infrastructure for politically-correct rationalizations is that the Eklutna village had NO real traditional use or harvest of the (very few) salmon that might have spawned in Eklutna River, as that village did not even exist in its current location until around 1900, when it was relocated from a site near Knik, across Knik Arm, and the first dam on the Eklutna River was built in 1929. So the Eklutna natives are essentially just as new, and are just as much “colonizers”, as are all other Americans in the Anchorage area.

    So put that in your “noble savage” pipe and smoke it!

  13. This is eco-terrorism. Illogical arguments to push a woke agenda. There was never a salmon run from Cook Inlet to Eklutna Lake. Salmon can not live in Eklutna Lake, it’s too silty. There is a small salmon run on the lower part of the Eklutna River. But that run has existed with BOTH dams in place. Take the Eklutna Lake dam out and Eklutna Lake is no longer a ‘settling pond’ for glacial silt. And the silt will travel downstream and ruin what little salmon run there is near the Eklutna Village. Insane stupidity.

  14. It is time that minorities should not control the life of the majority. This country was formed and based around the majority of the wants and needs of the majority of each community. Why tear down safe, simple and economical electricity that has minimal effect on the environment? Will we replace that power with more grids covering our grounds or windmills? These are a bigger waste issues and actually will harm the surrounding areas more.

  15. It is real easy to conclude that this dumb idea originated with someone in the Anchorage assembly.

  16. The Eklutna dam was built for a reason. It was maintained for a reason. That reason doesn’t go away with a desire to open up the creeks for an annual spawning salmon season.

    So far, I’ve not heard how the electricity supply will be maintained. Stakeholders in this energy source have a say, as well as the owners of the land. Where else can a dam be built for hydroelectric power? Are the owners planning to engage with Doyon Utilities at Ship Creek? Or, whip up some plan for Eagle River or Fish Creek? Are windfarms in the Susitna Delta being considered; harvesting power from the seasonal Inlet tidal bore?

    This issue surely cannot just be about ‘increasing the salmon runs’ because there’s not guarantee what the salmon are going to do, and how their presence is irrelevant to the wild fish population.

    Hopefully there is someone with answers at these Town Hall meetings.

  17. Thanks for the heads-up, Rick.
    .
    Maybe the argument would benefit from slight reframing:
    .
    300,000 Americans should beg a private corporation for the privilege of keeping their water and electricity?
    .
    What’s wrong with this picture?
    .
    170 people got mad because they couldn’t have gambling casinos, so their revenge is cutting off water and electricity to a city of 300,000?
    .
    300,000 people will meekly accept tripled electric bills, brownouts, rolling blackouts, just so 170 people can quit their jobs (if they ever had jobs), stuff their iphones in their loincloths, and take off fishing just like it’s the old days again?
    .
    300,000 people will quietly accept the stark proof that their city government cares more about subsidizing a 170-person private corporation than fulfilling its fiduciary duty to taxpayers?
    .
    No grand jury’s investigating the money magic which makes this scheme possible?
    .
    To the author’s question, of course Eklutna Dam can be removed… along with every elected and unelected government official who helped remove it.
    .
    At which “town hall” meeting will the process of mass removal be discussed? That meeting would be interesting.
    .
    In your opinion, Rick, does the Governor actually not know that cutting off water and power to 300,000 people can’t be allowed to end well?

  18. Oh yes they are – that stupid. Everyone in Alaska is that stupid and darned proud of it. They don’t like school or having homes (private property) because it is forbidden by the Klausite servants.

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