The state government may be short of funds to drive local projects, especially with the budget tied up, but federal funds are still available.
The governor’s office is accepting applications from municipalities and tribal organizations with “shovel-ready,” infrastructure-building projects. If the request fits his criteria, the governor will forward it onto the federal government for financing.
The Kodiak Island Borough has identified the expansion of the Kodiak Electric Association’s Terror Lake Hydroelectric Project as a worthy cause.
KEA CEO Darron Scott says the project is meant to build upon Kodiak’s existing renewable power grid as the population – and its demand for energy – increases.
“We’ve pushed really wind power as far as we can on the island for the time being and we’ve got more load growth coming in the future, so this is the right time. Over the next year or two, we’ll have to start burning diesel again depending on rainfall and snow melt and those types of things for power because load growth is occurring on the island. And we’d like to do that with good, renewable energy instead.”
He says they’re building upon the island’s hydropower – the expansion should provide a power boost of 20 percent.
“We’re gonna be building a 1.2 mile tunnel and a couple of small diversion dams diverting water from one side of the mountain range through the tunnel we’ll have to create into the Terror Lake itself and then we’ll utilize all of the existing infrastructure that we have at Terror Lake to make power and bring it into town.”
He says construction is set to begin summer 2018, and they hope to finish in 2020.
The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly sent a letter to the governor in support of funding the project. Assembly members signed off on the letter at an assembly regular meeting last week.
At that meeting, Assemblyman Kyle Crow also pointed out that Kodiak should make itself visible nationally.
“The thing that really jumped out at me is to let the federal government know that if they have infrastructure money that we could use some of it here to enhance the community’s position in the world, really.”
Meanwhile, KEA is trying to speed up the permitting process for the expansion.
In April, Representative Don Young introduced a bill to the House that would allow KEA to bypass certain authorizations under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Scott said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission process already covers those same steps.
The bill is still before the House, but Scott says they’re also working on the permitting process as it currently exists. That means they won’t waste time either way.