Murkowski welcomes Indian energy grants

Several projects benefit Southeast communites

Posted: Sunday, August 16, 2009

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski welcomed the U.S. Department of Energy's decision Thursday to award up to $13.6 million in Indian energy grants nationwide, including $3.36 million in awards to Alaska villages and Native corporations and tribal groups.

The grants include two communities in Southeast Alaska:

• $1.12 million to Haida Power of Hydaburg to help pay part of the estimated $16 million cost of building the 5 megawatt Reynolds Creek hydroelectric project on Prince of Wales Island.

• $1.11 million to Kootznoowoo Inc., the village corporation for Angoon on Admiralty Island, for pre-construction work on the proposed 1 megawatt Thayer Creek Hydroelectric project to serve Angoon residents.

"Given the high costs of diesel-generated power in Southeast and statewide, it's good news that federal assistance is finally forthcoming to help both of these projects get off the ground," Murkowski said. "This is a welcome first step for both of these projects that will produce cheaper, renewable energy for the Panhandle."

The Reynolds Creek hydro project, first proposed by the Haida Corp. in 1997, is located 10 miles east of Hydaburg, and involves construction of a small diversion dam, a 150-acre lake and a small powerhouse, plus a nearly 11-mile transmission line.

The project is expected to generate 19 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year.

The Thayer Creek project, a roughly $12 million hydroelectric project, involves a small diversion facility to run water to a turbine to provide electricity for Angoon.

The funding, reauthorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, represents the largest grants ever awarded by DOE in the history of the program.

The program has awarded a total of $16.5 million in grants for 93 tribal energy projects since its inception.

"It was heartening to see that Secretary of Energy Steven Chu specifically noted that many of Alaska's rural Native villages face special challenges in paying for the high cost of fuel and electricity," Murkowski said. "The assistance is certainly justified and badly needed in Native communities, especially given that small villages have not benefited from the drop in fuel prices of the past eight months and are still paying prices similar to those seen last summer."

Other Alaskan grants awarded include:

• $244,106 to the Chickaloon Native Village for an energy efficiency feasibility study.

• $57,184 to the Cook Inlet Tribal Council for a building energy efficiency feasibility study.

• $248,107 to the Native Village of Eyak for a feasibility study of building a wind turbine to reduce energy costs in the village.

• $200,000 to the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association for training of workers to improve home weatherization efforts on the islands.

• $200,000 to the Tlingit-Haida Central Council for training workers for a home weatherization project in Southeast Alaska.

• $194,454 to the Cook Inlet Tribal Council for weatherization training and apprenticeships.

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