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Lack of funds stalls power-share project

Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2005

KETCHIKAN - Skyrocketing costs and a lack of funds has stalled a power-sharing project to connect hydroelectric projects in Ketchikan and Wrangell.

Work on the Swan Lake-Lake Tyee Intertie project was expected to begin this spring, but now its future is in jeopardy.

The intertie is owned and managed by the Four Dam Pool Power Agency. Work on the project was halted last fall when the agency ran out of money. The agency anticipated restarting construction this summer. However, with no state funds forthcoming this year, it is unclear when work can start again.

During a recent Ketchikan City Council meeting, City Mayor Bob Weinstein, who is a member of the Four Dam Pool board, announced that he heard Gov. Frank Murkowski's office wants to look into a redesign.

Rebecca Hultberg, the governor's spokeswoman, said Monday that there was some discussion of aligning the intertie with the planned Bradfield Canal road, but she said she is not aware that Murkowski is planning to reroute the intertie.

The current intertie route, which leads over mountains between Ketchikan's Swan Lake and Lake Tyee near Wrangell, has been cleared and some foundations have been constructed.

One of the issues is that the project has become significantly more expensive than anticipated when planning started.

While the project has been costly, the governor has no specific concerns about how the money was spent. Hultberg said. She said the main issue is the Four Dam Pool Power Agency has not been willing to put up enough of its own money for the intertie.

"The state has asked the Four Dam Pool to participate financially," she said. "Their response was not sufficient."

Four Dam Pool Manager Bob LeResche said Friday that the agency has been working with the governor's office, providing reports with estimates of what it would take to finish the Swan Lake-Lake Tyee leg of the intertie. He said it likely would cost about $50 million to finish. The agency wants the state to provide $35 million of that.

LeResche said the agency's plan also called for $10 million in federal funding, and the Four Dam Pool would kick in $5 million.



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