Susitna dam study due next spring

Posted: Tuesday, October 06, 2009

FAIRBANKS - State Sen. Joe Thomas says the analysis should be ready next spring on the proposal to dam the Susitna River to generate electricity.

Thomas sponsored the bill for a $2.5 million study to re-evaluate the idea that has been around for decades.

Thomas told the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce last week that the multibillion dollar dam is the only way the state could meet a goal of creating half of Alaska's energy through renewable sources.

The Alaska Energy Authority is also working on a broader plan for the state, said Gene Therriault, an energy adviser to Gov. Sean Parnell. The governor's office will want to learn how quickly Susitna could be built, what it would cost and what the potential economic impact would be before knowing how it fits into long-term energy plans, Therriault said.

As originally conceived, the 1,000-plus-megawatt system would include one or two dams. Older designs outlined a rock-fill embankment dam, 800 to 900 feet tall, in the Susitna Valley and a smaller concrete-arch dam downstream.

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