Southern Intertie Project passes environmental hurdles

Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2002

An additional transmission line to carry power between Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula has been on the horizon for many years. The vision for the Southern Intertie Project became much clearing when the legislature appropriated $50 million dollars toward the project. Now with the completion of the environmental impact studies construction dates are being projected, according to Dora Gropp, project manager for Chugach Electric Association. "We are pass the environmental work and now it is up to the owners to say let's go," Gropp told a recent joint meeting of the Kenai Chapter of the Alliance and the local Resource Development Council. Costs are the remaining hurdle yet to clear, the last estimates were made in 1997-98 and while Gropp feels the estimates are still good, there is concern that when the project gets into detail designs costs may yet become a stumbling block. Permits and right-of-ways are also still pending but Gropp says, "Having gone through about seven years worth of studies and environmental work I would certainly hope that most of the biggies are now out of the way." If all goes according to plan construction could start as early as February March of the year 2004, "There are certain areas where we can only work in the winter time, so realistically construction may start a year later," added Gropp.

When construction gets underway, Gropp estimates out of a total cost of approximately $100 million nearly 70% will find its way into the local economy in terms of labor and locally purchased materials. She also believes that it is possible for the project to be constructed with in-state workers. After completion the new intertie will mean increased power supply reliability and a slight reduction in rates for the consumer, "Initially, like with all capitol projects, there are the impacts of the early outlay of money, but over the long term life of the project, Chugach electric estimates about a .50-.60 cent reduction in the consumers bill," said Gropp. However, Gropp pointed out that there six owner utilities involved in the Southern Intertie Project and each may have different rate projection scenarios.

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