This editorial first appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
Important field studies on the Susitna hydroelectric project will be able to proceed this summer thanks to a reasonable ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The federal agency has taken note of the short season in Alaska and the preparatory work done by the Alaska Energy Authority in setting a deadline of April 1 for approving final research details.
This is critical in helping advance the project during the next few years to get to the construction stage.
The authority has committed to providing the results of 2012 river data and specific research sites in time for FERC action this spring.
The staff of the commission challenged 13 of the 58 proposed studies for not being specific enough. The state responded by asking the commission to stick by the schedule under which a series of comprehensive studies can get going to answer key questions related to geology, water, fish, wildlife, subsistence, safety, economics and recreation.
Three of the study plans questioned deal with fish in the Susitna River and productivity of the river.
The energy authority has agreed to file final implementation plans by March 1, which will give the federal agency a month to go over them.
Now it’s up to the energy authority to polish off its final plans in a little more than a month.