For decades the residents of Tenakee Springs have been cautious about development around Tenakee Inlet. So, many of us were concerned when we learned the Inside Passage Electrical Cooperative had submitted an Alaska Renewable Energy Fund grant application for a project in Tenakee Inlet without notifying the local government in Tenakee. We were later offended to read the grant proposal which stated “we have encountered nothing but support for this clean, reliable energy source.” Inside Passage may have received “nothing but support,” but that is only because they did not speak to anyone in Tenakee Springs.
The site Inside Passage has proposed for its geothermal project has been selected as a proposed “enterprise site” in the Sealaska Lands Bill. The site has been named Pegmatite Mountain on the “future sites” map and is located at the northwest end of Tenakee Inlet. The City of Tenakee Springs has a long history of opposing development in Upper Tenakee Inlet and the City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the Sealaska choice of Pegmatite Mountain. The City is also in the process of exploring hydo power much closer to town that could satisfy our electricity needs.
As a resident of Tenakee Springs, I fear development of the site could lead to road construction and increased boat traffic in Tenakee Inlet. It would disrupt the solitude and isolation I sought when I moved to Tenakee Springs. Furthermore, development of the site could disrupt a now pristine watershed which is used extensively by local residents and visitors. Several members of the community commercial fish there and it is frequented by subsistence and recreational users.
Because transferring the parcel to Sealaska likely would lead to development largely beyond my control, I am wholeheartedly opposed to the Pegmatite Mountain site being included in the Sealaska Lands Bill. The people of Tenakee were already left out of the discussion regarding this parcel once. This time I hope we’re heard, and I hope Juneau residents who know what a special place Tenakee Inlet is will join me in voicing their discontent with this proposal.