Governor: Susitna hydropower project moving ahead in Alaska

Alaska is moving ahead with the $4.5 billion Susitna-Watana hydroelectric project, the state's governor reported. The hydro project is slated for completion by 2023.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell said major hurdles for the project must be overcome first, including permitting and financing of the 700-foot-high dam.

Two weeks after signing legislation necessary to move the Susitna-Watana hydroelectric project forward, Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell the state is recruiting its Susitna-Watana hydro project team and he expects first power from the major hydropower system on the Susitna River by 2023. Licensing the project is expected to take six years. Construction will take five years.

The Susitna-Watana project requires building a 700-foot-high dam on the river at the Watana site. The dam would create a 39 mile-long reservoir with a maximum width of two miles. Energy would be generated using the glacial waters of the upper Susitna River, and transmitted north to the interior and south to south central Alaska along new and existing transmission lines. The project will have an installed capacity of 600 MW and will supply half of the Railbelt's current energy needs at a stable or declining rate for the project life of more than 100 years.

"The Susitna-Watana Hydro Project is part of a comprehensive energy package that will help Alaskans in a number of different ways," Parnell said. "It will grow jobs now and into the future, and it will help Alaska reach its goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2025."

The governor also announced that the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) is preparing to file the preliminary FERC application. AEA and the Mat-Su Borough are doing detailed mapping of the project site, and the Department of Fish and Game is performing fish surveys in the region.

"Alaska's goal of producing 50 percent of our power from renewable resources by 2025 can be met by building a large hydroelectric project on the Railbelt," said AEA Executive Director Sara Fisher-Goad. "This project will help us reach the target and will provide reliable, long-term power for generations. AEA appreciates the governor's leadership on this major project."

AEA has established and is recruiting for eight new Susitna-Watana project positions. This team will be the core project group for the development of the Susitna-Watana project.

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