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Susitna-Wantana dam meeting unleashes project critics

Alaska Dispatch

Plans to build a 750-foot high dam above Devil’s Canyon on the Susitna River bought out nearly four dozen people – mainly opponents -- to an Alaska Energy Authority board meeting in Talkeetna. Critics ticked of an array of concerns, according to Scott Anderson of the Talkeetna Good Times.

• The difficulty of building a safe dam in an area where earthquakes occur regularly.

• Whether the authority could evaluate the proposal fairly, given Gov. Sean Parnell's support of the project.

• Opposition to the large scale of the project and support for smaller alternative energy solutions including wind, geothermal and tidal power.

• Price. Even with the dam, ratepayers might pay 23 to 40 center per kilowatt hour, more than today’s natural gas price.

 “I’ve seen boondoggle after boondoggle after boondoggle being financed by the state. This is another one. I have zero faith that AEA is going to take an honest, objective look at the data,” said Robert Gerlach, according to the Talkeetna Good Times. “I think it’s a rubber-stamp process.”

The AEA said 17 early studies with fieldwork are in progress, with some 80 people in the field this summer. AEA says the studies including synthesizing data from cultural, fish, large game and ice studies, extensive king salmon studies, and data from the 1980s.