Construction of major HEP plant in Alaska

The Alaska Energy Authority has taken the next step toward construction of a major hydroelectric power plant on the upper Susitna River, Alaska by filing a license pre-application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The authority will eventually need a FERC license to build the power plant and put it into operation. The energy authority expects to complete the required studies and submit a license application by mid-September 2015.

With a capacity of 600 MW, the dam would represent a major diversification from the region's heavy dependence on natural gas-fueled power stations. The facility would also be a huge step toward achieving a state goal that at least 50 per cent of Alaska's electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2025.

"This is an important day, not only for the Susitna-Watana hydroelectric project, but for long-term and stable electrical energy for generations of Alaskans," said energy authority Board Chairman Hugh Short.

Once the system goes into operation, the topping up and drawing down of the system's reservoir would be timed to meet Railbelt demand, with peak loads during winter.

The facility would produce an average of 250 MW of guaranteed power between November and April, but with power output perhaps varying briefly between 100 MW and 500 MW, the pre-application says.

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