Comments taken on Gustavus hydro plant

Citizens raise concerns about disturbing nat'l park, sacred Native sites

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2003

About two dozen people attended a public hearing on a proposed hydroelectric power facility and land exchange in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Wednesday evening at Centennial Hall.

Four people spoke at the hearing, mostly arguing against the project on the grounds that there are viable alternatives that won't disturb the national park.

Wanda Culp of Hoonah testified that the proposed project crosses two Native land allotments that are sacred to Hoonah Tlingits.

The Falls Creek project proposed by Gustavus Electric Co. is estimated to cost $4.5 million. The plant would be built about five miles east of Gustavus on National Park Service land presently designated as wilderness. The proposal calls for the federal land to be exchanged with state land within two other national parks in Southeast.

Mark Rorick and Richard Hellard, both representatives of the Sierra Club, argued that Gustavus should push for speedy connection to the Southeast Intertie project to alleviate its current dependence on costly diesel energy.

But Gustavus Electric Co. President Dick Levitt said the Intertie is not an option for Gustavus. The draft environmental impact statement says Gustavus' portion of Intertie construction would cost almost twice as much as 10 years' worth of power from the proposed Falls Creek plant.

Comments on the draft EIS are due by Jan. 6. Comments may be sent to Magalie R. Salas, Secretary; Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; 888 First Street NE; Washington, D.C. 20426.

Comments should include the words "Falls Creek Hydroelectric Project and Land Exchange, FERC No. 11659-002" on the first line. FERC officials estimate the final EIS will be released next June.



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