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Susitna-Watana studies continue

Crews have been in the field this summer compiling information to complete dozens of studies on the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.

Susitna-Watana Hydro is a planned major new generation resource for the Railbelt. The Alaska Energy Authority – with support from legislators and the Governor – is leading the multi-year effort to advance the project.

Susitna-Watana is being planned to generate 2.8 million megawatt-hours of energy per year. That’s equivalent to Chugach’s 2013 power sales. The Susitna-Watana project would annually provide about half of the electric energy used by customers in the Railbelt.

Like Bradley Lake and other hydro projects, Susitna-Watana is expected to help stailize electric power prices. It would reduce the amount of natural gas Chugach would otherwise have to purchase at flucuating prices. In 2013, 87 percent of the power Chugach sold came from burning natural gas, 11 percent from hydro and 2 percent from wind. Offsetting natural gas purchases with hydropower from the Susitna-Watana project would create a more-balanced generation mix.

While they remain productive for more than 100 years, major hydroelectric projects do take time to permit and construct. The 58 studies will support a license application AEA envisions filing in 2016 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A determination on the license could take a couple of years. If granted, construction would follow, with the project becoming operational in 2025.

Chugach has supported the efforts of AEA to move the project toward licensing. Like other Railbelt utilities, Chugach is a potential purchaser of energy from the project. However, power sales agreements cannot be developed until more is known about how the project will be financed and operated. Currently the project has an estimated cost of $5.2 billion. AEA has hired a financial advisor to help evaluate alternative means of financing and the impact on the price of power that will ultimately be paid by utility customers.

For more on the project, go to http://www.susitna-watanahydro.org/.


Scammers threaten disconnection

One of the scams in use around the country – including in Alaska – is to call people up and threaten that their electric service will be disconnected immediately if a supposed past-due bill isn’t paid. The goal of the scammers is to obtain credit card or other financial information. Chugach does not do business this way. Before service is disconnected for non-payment, Chugach follows steps laid out in its tariff. Those steps include advance notification. Chugach also does not take credit card payments directly, but instead refers customers wishing to pay by credit card to a third-party payment service. Customers who receive a call demanding payment to avoid an immediate disconnect should hang up, call Chugach to check the status of their account and report the incident to the police (online reporting is available in Anchorage at muni.org/apd).