Alaska Electric Light & Power has applied for a regulatory permit to conduct studies to determine the feasibility of a hydroelectric facility at Sheep Creek.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opened public comment on the preliminary permit through March 25.
The Sheep Creek Hydro Project would use a run-of-the-river hydroelectric generator to produce about 3 percent of Juneau’s current hydro resources over three months — running dry in the winter. The stream is located south of Gold Creek.
AEL&P spokesperson Debbie Ferreira said in a press release the project would meet Juneau’s growing need for power. It would be less expensive than building the second phase of the Lake Dorothy hydro facility. And Sheep Creek would match Juneau’s expected growth more closely than Lake Dorothy, which would have more than seven times the capacity — more than the predicted need.
“We need to be prepared to develop additional hydro projects to meet that load growth,” Ferreira said, “Beginning the application process now will ensure that we are able to meet that demand when it is needed.”
Should AEL&P find Sheep Creek to be feasible, the utility would then conduct environmental studies and prepare for a FERC license application. This process can take four to six years. Construction would commence several years later.
Sheep Creek’s hydro-power history goes back more than a century. The Treadwell mine hydro project on Sheep Creek ran from 1910 to 1944 to power the gold mines on Douglas Island.