The Kodiak Electric Association hopes to speed up an expansion of the Terror Lake Hydroelectric Project. Congressman Don Young recently introduced a bill, House Resolution 220, for that purpose.
On Tuesday, Young spoke before the House Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans, and said KEA needs to expand the hydroelectric project in order to meet residents’ growing energy needs.
To do that, KEA plans to divert two streams in the Upper Hidden Basin into the reservoir through a 1.2 mile underground tunnel.
“And that will increase the lake’s production to 25 percent resulting in 33 thousand megawatt hours, which is a tremendous amount of power that’s clean. ‘Course the issue today is that the tunnel goes under the Kodiak Island National Wildlife Refuge. It’s federal lands. I understand that they’re working … very close with Fish and Wildlife.”
KEA intends to use up to 20 acres of refuge land and Young’s bill would allow KEA to skip over certain authorizations under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, or ANILCA.
KEA President and CEO Darron Scott said they’ve already been going through the permitting steps detailed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.
“We have the duplicative process with the ANILCA process as well, so in trying to get this permitted, we’d like to use just the FERC process and not have to go through an additional, duplicative ANILCA process.”
Scott said timing is the problem more than anything else
“In Alaska – this is a remote site, high altitude – construction seasons are severely limited and, with that, if we don’t get things lined up by around September of this year with our permitting squared away, we lose time to get our contractors prepared, on site, to get lined up for construction summer of 2018.”
He said that would mean a lot of extra cost for KEA and its members – a delay would set them back $11 million.
According to background documents from the hearing, if the bill is passed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would require KEA to comply to “mandatory conditions” under the Federal Power Act and make appropriate mitigation efforts.