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New federal funding for the Southeast Intertie Project will help developers plan the Petersburg-Kake leg, and allow them to finish planning the Juneau-Hoonah leg and begin construction, said Corry Hildenbrand, vice president for energy resource development at Alaska Electric Light and Power Co.
The project, estimated to cost $320 million, would connect Southeast Alaska's isolated power systems. The Juneau-Hoonah section is intended to replace diesel-generated energy in Hoonah and at the Greens Creek Mine on Admiralty Island with hydroelectric energy by transmitting lower-cost power generated in Juneau to those areas. Hoonah and the mine are dependent on stand-alone diesel generation, as is Kake.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $2 million for the Juneau-Hoonah leg. The Alaska delegation had asked for $15 million. The committee also approved the delegation's full request for $500,000 for the Petersburg-Kake leg, said Chuck Kleeschulte, spokesman for Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
"It's an extremely difficult year. The entire country is only getting $17.6 million for electrical projects, and Alaska is getting $9.5 million of that," Kleeschulte said.
The other federal money is going toward the power transmission project between Ketchikan's Swan Lake and Peterburg's Tyee hydroelectric project, and for a project in upper Lynn Canal, he said.
Hildenbrand said it will cost $35 million to finish the Juneau-Hoonah intertie leg.
"It's a good start. We can wrap up the engineering and permitting and possibly get part of the line construction completed on Admiralty Island, and some civil work accomplished on the submarine cable landing sites," he said.
Dave Carlson, intertie coordinator for the Southeast Conference, a government and business group, said developers didn't expect to get all the money at once.
"We knew all along that we're going to be building Juneau to Hoonah in phases. The federal funding isn't going to come that quick," Carlson said.
Carlson said developers haven't begun the preliminary design for the Petersburg-Kake leg.
"I'm thrilled that there is half a million. That will really get this project started," he said