Chugach Electric Board sorts through what it would take to extend decision on Eklutna dam removal

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Removing a major source of energy by dismantling the Eklutna Dam was the topic of both an open and a closed meeting of the Chugach Electric Association Board of Directors on Monday. The meeting had been abruptly called, poorly advertised, and the board went into executive session for at least a half an hour.

The board, which is the governing body for Anchorage’s electric coop, considered recent policy pronouncements by the Anchorage Assembly.

The Assembly majority, including the chairman of the Assembly Chris Constant, wants to remove the dam and restore salmon runs, but also wants to postpone the decision until there is a governor in place that might be more supportive of the idea. Although the Assembly has not stated that as their motive, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has the authority over the dam’s future, and the Anchorage Assembly is on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Eklutna provides a major amount of electricity used in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley. It was constructed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation between 1951 and 1954 for less than $30 million and provides 177,438 megawatt hours energy, enough energy to power more than 24,600 residential homes for an entire year.

The project has proven durable and after the March 27, 1964 mega-earthquake, returned to partial operation within about 30 minutes.

Environmentalists want the dam removed because the river was once a minor salmon run. But even if the owners of the dam — Matanuska Electric Association, the Municipality of Anchorage, and Chugach Electric Association — removed the dam, it would only return the flow of the Eklutna River to what it was before the dam went up, and that means no fish, because there were no salmon swimming upstream before the dam went in. That’s because hydro projects downstream in prior years had already modified the river to the point where it was not a salmon run.

The Project was sold in 1991 to the Municipality of Anchorage, Chugach Electric Association, and Matanuska Electric Association. The municipality sold off its utility to Chugach and is now owner of 52% of it through the ML&P and Alaska Waste and Water Utility. When the sale of ML&P went through, the Municipality was supposed to designate a liaison for the Eklutna Dam, and didn’t. So the Muni is an owner but has no representation.

As part of the 1991 sale, the utilities entered into an agreement with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to develop and propose to the governor a program to protect, mitigate damages to, and enhance fish and wildlife impacted by the development of the hydroelectric project. The governor appears to be under no obligation to agree with whatever the proposal might suggest. For this reason, the liberals on the Anchorage Assembly are working to get a delay, while they work on electing a Democrat governor in 2026.

Notes from the Chugach open meeting on Monday:

1. Chugach Electric Board’s legal counsel appears to disagree with the Anchorage Assembly on several issues.

2. Chugach Electric does want to establish year round flows and restore habitats.

3. Board Member Susanne Fleek-Green stated that all parties can agree to extend, as the Assembly has requested, because there is no specific rule that says all parties cannot agree to an extension. 

4. The 1991 agreement with USFWS will likely be enforced in federal courts.

5. Technically, Anchorage Municipality has no representative to come to the table and vote and agree on all alternatives because it is no longer an owner. 

6. CEA would like to make sure owners agree together.

7. There were 380 copy-and-pasted letters sent in favoring dam removal, with 275 of them from out of state.

8. The public may continue to provide comment on the proposal to remove the dam until Feb. 19 by writing [email protected].

20 COMMENTS

  1. What will this virtue signaling provide the rate payers of CEA & AWWU? What will replace the dams electric production? Where will Anchorage source potable water? Is this simply another veiled attempt by the self-serving liberals and environmentalists who worship at the alter of Mother Gaya to de-populate Anchorage and Alaska?

  2. They are going to get the dam. Just start planning for it.
    Progressives are at heart a suicide cult. They just want you gone first.

    • The two up this year are Mark Wiggin and Sam Cason. Both need to be shown the door. They voted to support the renewable portfolio standard legislation as championed by REAP. Either dam removal or the ungodly expensive pumped storage solution would be a dream come true for the likes of REAP and the Alaska Center. Watch for endorsements from the Alaska Center for these incumbents who’ve been reliable votes to progressing the green agenda.

  3. The fact that there is even a discussion about this proves that people are ignorant of all things mechanical and have zero idea of the unintended consequences of decisions made on BS propostions bsed on zero factual information. This whole thing is based on an entitled mentality by a VERY limited portion of the population and will have a negative effect on the majority of the population.

  4. Follow the potential money on this deal. Check members who would benefit with more costs to consumers and connections. This idea is something that lacks common sense for the present and the future. If the dam is taken out, attach any future rate increases to salaries and benefits to all involved. If rates increase, pay and benefits decrease percentage equal to all involved.

  5. “…….There were 380 copy-and-pasted letters sent in favoring dam removal, with 275 of them from out of state……..”
    This is a conspiracy. The source if this conspiracy needs to be publicly exposed.

  6. You guys really need to quit complaining and send in your comments on this idiocy. I did this morning. You guys need to play also. Don’t let a 4:1 flow of comments from the outside Usual Suspects outweigh what you want.

    This game is played and won by those who show up. Please show up. Cheers –

  7. This should never happen!
    “chug e ack”(CEA) fallowing cheat sheets give to them at WOKE PG&E seminars and no consideration ofAlaska rate payers!
    Most of employees transferred from PG&E
    Employees making massive wages!

    One way ticket back to Seattle!

    They refer to valley people as “The other side of the tracks”!

    Another cheaper form of electric generation getting censored and demonized!

    Ow by the way the largest geothermal field in the world is right across Cook Inlet!
    A free natural resource for steam turbines!

  8. We ALL need to send emails opposing the removal of the dam. I have told everyone I know, and asked them to spread the word! We only have a few days left to outnumber the non-Alaskans! I asked out of state family & friends to email as well. We can play by their rules too.

  9. What is the point if the water level will be the same after the dam’s removal as it was previous to the dam’s installation? Neither amount could support the fish if this is truly the reason the Assembly and environmentalists want it to be done

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