Alaska Governor Kills the Susitna Hydro Dam Project

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The Governor of Alaska, has directed the state to shut down the proposed new hydropower dam project on the Susitna River, 90 miles upstream of Talkeetna.

The proposed Watana dam would be one of the tallest dams in the US directly affecting 233 miles of the mainstem Susitna River and indirectly affecting about 1300 miles of its tributaries.

So far, the state has spent $180 million toward studies for the project to get a federal license from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to generate hydropower at the dam site.

An independent study commissioned in  2012 stated that:

[a] better alternative to providing long-term, affordable, stably priced energy is for the state to finance, explore and produce the Cook Inlet Basin gas resource it already owns. For considerably less investment than Susitna, the state can meet the current Railbelt demand for electric power and space heating for the next 100 years with stable prices- one-third the price of a Susitna kilowatt hour in fact- and with less environmental impact than a Susitna power dam.

The project would have cost taxpayers $4.5 billion.

Although it’s not clear what the Governor plans to do in terms of exploring other energy options, the action by the Governor protects one of the last free-flowing rivers belonging to our nation.