Hydropower License Approved for Alaska's Glacier Bay Nat'l ParkSubmitted by John Seebach on Thu, 2004-10-28 08:00
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a surprise on Wednesday when it granted Gustavus Electric Company a license to construct a hydropower project in Glacier Bay National Park.
The project is authorized by a law sponsored by then-Senator now-Governor Frank Murkowski. The law allows for a land exchange between state and federal lands upon joint review and approval from FERC and the National Park Service.
(A copy of the 1998 law is attached at the bottom of this article)
Conservationists, led by the Sierra Club and Friends of Glacier Bay, oppose the boondoggle, and have pushed for Gustavus Electric to mine other less impactful and sustainable energy sources. The 450 beneficiary residents of Gustavus are also skeptical about the merits of this hydropower proposal. In fact, an independent economic analysis shows that the project is a net economic loss for Gustavus, and that it won't help high rates.
From an article published in the Juneau Empire:
"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted Wednesday [October 27] to let the diesel-dependent community of Gustavus build a hydroelectric project in designated wilderness in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.
"Residents in the northern Southeast Alaska town pay some of the highest utility bills in Alaska - recently as high as 51 cents per kilowatt hour - in part because of the Gustavus Electric Co.'s dependence on expensive diesel fuel.
"The project cannot begin until Glacier Bay National Park trades to Alaska about 1,000 acres of designated wilderness along Falls Creek, the proposed site of the project."