Chugach Consumers

Background documents assembled by Chugach Consumers

NOTE: Inclusion here does not necessarily indicate agreement with the content or views expressed in the documents.  

One-dam project (Watana):  
Est 2012 Cap Cost = $? billion ($5 billion in 2008 $$) for 600 MW
($8.3 million/MW, $2009)
[32 ¢/kwh for first 40 years, 29 ¢/kwh next 10 years]

Two-dam project (Watana and Devils Canyon):  
Est 2009 Cap Cost = $12 billion ($12 billion in 2009 $$) for 1,880 MW
($6.4 million/MW, $2009)
[14-18 ¢/kwh for first 50 years, 1 ¢/kwh next 50 years]

Est 1984(?) Cap Cost = $5 billion ($10.3 billion in 2009 $$) for 1,620 MW ($6.4 million/MW, $2009)
$138 million spent on studies by Alaska Power Authority as of 1986

Coalition for Susitna Dam Alternatives   

GOOGLE Searches:  Susitna Hydroelectric   Susitna Dam   AEA Susitna Reports

8/23/12 Price of hydro up for debate: Susitna-Watana costs: ISER, AEA spar over numbers - Mary Lochner - Anchorage Press - “Under normal rate-making procedures,” researcher Steve Colt told the Press in July, “I calculate that if the initial up-front cost of Susitna was $5 billion, which I believe is a reasonable estimate, then a power-rate of about 39 cents per kilowatt hour would be necessary in the year 2024 when the project came online, to recover that cost.”
Susitna-Watana Cost of Power Analysis - Steve Colt - Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) - University of Alaska Anchorage - In this paper I present a simple analysis of the cost of the proposed 600-megawatt Susitna-Watana project from a utility ratepayer perspective. The reference case assumptions include a capital cost of 5.0 billion year 2008 dollars, 100% debt financing at 6%, and an on-line date of 2024. Under these assumptions plus others described below, the retail rate for Susitna power in 2024 at a Railbelt customer’s meter would be about 40 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). [Chugach Consumers note:  Deduct 6¢/kwh in distribution and transmission costs to get the wholesale cost.] By comparison, if natural gas is available to electric utilities in year 2024 at a price of about $13 per million btu, and neglecting potential carbon taxes, then the retail rate for power from a new conventional combined cycle gas turbine going online in 2024 would be about 21 cents per kWh.  If the State of Alaska were to contribute cash to cover part of the cost of the Watana project, required rates would be lower. For example, if the State paid 50% of the reference case cost of $5 billion, then a retail rate of about 23 cents per kWh would be required to cover the remaining 50%. The required outlay by the State would be the equivalent of about $15,000 per family of three Railbelt residents.
10/7/11 Susitna-Watana dam good for the long term - By HUGH SHORT
10/2/11 Susitna Dam project doesn't make sense - RICHARD LEO - Anchorage Daily News - 
11/25/10 Governor endorses Susitna hydro project - HYDROELECTRIC: $4.5B plan would dam river and create a 39-mile reservoir - ELIZABETH BLUEMINK - Anchorage Daily News -    Railbelt Large Hydro Evaluation Preliminary Decision Document - November 23, 2010 - Prepared By
Alaska Energy Authority:  RAK  AEA FTP 
11/14/10 RDC told it’s time to move on hydro - More Southcentral hydroelectric power required to meet 50 percent renewable energy standard — and it will take at least a decade - 
Kristen Nelson - Petroleum News
3/16/09 Susitna Hydroelectric Project - Project Evaluation Interim Memorandum - FINAL - for Alaska Energy Authority by HDR Alaska, Inc.
12/5/09 Susitna hydro project may be too big, study finds - Sean Cockerham - ADN - The much touted, multi-billion-dollar Susitna River dam makes less sense for Alaska than a smaller hydro project at Chakachamna Lake across Cook Inlet from Anchorage, a new state-funded study found.
3/22/09 Study touts benefits of Susitna hydroelectric project - By Rena Delbridge - Fairbanks Daily News Miner - ... a hydroelectric project at Susitna could generate ... power for the Railbelt for as little as 14 cents per kilowatt-hour. After the project is paid off 50 years from a start date, electricity would cost about one cent per kilowatt hour...  “If we would have built it at the time, it would be paid off,” [Steve Haagenson] said. “We’d have billions in the bank right now, and we’d be paying about one cent per kilowatt-hour. The second-best time is today.”
11/08 AEA - Seminar on the Development of Large Hydroelectric Projects with a Focus on the Susitna Project
1/30/08 Susitna: Long term savior or boondoggle? - By Stefan Milkowski - Fairbanks Daily News Miner - The Anchorage Daily News this morning blasted the Susitna dam project, calling it a “boondoggle” and recommending it “be put back in the crypt where it belongs.”  ... Haagenson figures it would be much smaller than the original plan — about 600 megawatts instead of 1,600
1/28/08 Susitna R.I.P. - Here's a boondoggle that belongs back in the crypt - Anchorage Daily News [Editorial] - It's been reported that the cost of electricity from Susitna is presently estimated to be about 30 cents per kilowatt hour.  
Chugach Consumers testimony
on HB 336 (study)   HB335 (appropriation)  CEA letter to Rep Johnson     
3/1/07 River's clean power keeps drifting past - Anchorage Daily News OpEd by Lee Wareham
10/3/06 Young pushing Susitna dam - Fairbanks Daily News Miner 
8/6/06 Vetoed projects didn't contribute to the goal of generating power - Gov Frank Murkowski
5/2/05 Jerry McCutcheon email
4/6/04 A Short History of the Susitna Hydroelectric Project - Jim Thrall, Meridian Management, Inc - Although a large number of potentially critical environmental issues were identified in the course of the environmental assessment process (working with the resource agencies, a list of 52 issues was developed as a starting point for the settlement negotiation process) none were clearly identified as obvious project stoppers. Factors critical to the decision to halt the project were trends in the price of oil and the size of the project in terms of the Railbelt load.
9/5/03 Laurie Townsend - Special room has been set up at the Alaska Resources Library for the old Susitna Dam reports - Alaska Public Radio Network - 3,000 documents are filed on 84 feet of shelf space!  $130 million was spent by the sate on these studies.


LEE NUNN - Susitna Dam deserves another look - Anchorage Daily News (Voice of the Times) - Dams like Susitna and Bradley Lake take a sizeable bond sale to provide funds for construction and long term financing. The cost of those bonds in the mid 1980s was much higher than would be the case today with interest rates now at all time lows. The suggestion that the cost of the dams might be double does not take into account that the cost of financing the construction and long-term debt is a huge part of the cost and that cost will be decidedly less.  In inflation-adjusted dollars, the cost would probably be less than the original estimate. Railbelt utilities agreed to buy the Susitna energy, as they do from Eklutna and Bradley Lake dams. Having the dam's power pre-sold makes bonding the project attractive to the large investment houses...The Susitna EIS confirms that the dams would have minimal wildlife habit impacts in a state with both generous amounts of habitat, as well as a demonstrated ability to accommodate and execute sensible development.  
7/24/03 LIZ RUSKIN - Dam plan may get 2nd look - SUSITNA RIVER: Young seeks feasibility study for massive project - Anchorage Daily News - 
6/03 Ginny Fay - A History of Alaska’s Mega Projects - Susitna Dam page 12-13
12/16/85 A perspective for judging the Susitna hydroelectric project - Anchorage Daily News - By ROBERT D. HEATH - It's been reported that the cost of electricity from Susitna is presently estimated to be about 30 cents per kilowatt hour, and that this is far out of line with today's average Railbelt "wholesale" costs of about 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour. The 30-cent estimate, however, includes expected inflation over the next 15 years. Expressed in terms of today's dollars the price of Susitna energy in 1999, the initial year of operation, would be about 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour. 

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