Anchorage Assembly Grandstands Over Eklutna Hydro…Again

Anchorage Assembly Grandstands Over Eklutna Hydro…Again

March 29, 2024

The Anchorage Assembly called a special meeting this past Tuesday afternoon, shoving through a legally-questionable change to the Municipal Charter and giving itself final say over all things related to the Eklutna Hydro project.

That project, which provides approximately 6% of Southcentral Alaska’s energy and 90% of Anchorage’s clean water supplies, has its Fish and Wildlife plans up for reauthorization this year.  Power The Future has been a proponent of the owners’ draft mitigation and enhancement plan; a culmination of five years of technical and scientific studies and a compromise between nearly a dozen user groups.

The eco-left supported members of the Assembly, typically champions of ‘green’ energy, have fought back against the always-available, dispatchable, scalable benefits of the Eklutna dam for months, ever since ENGOs started calling for ‘restoration’ of the area (not part of the 1991 Fish and Wildlife plan), through removal of the dam.  Although only a small part of the overall energy solution for Southcentral Alaska, Eklutna Hydro is certainly a much better option than wind and solar for the quarter-million people living in the service areas.

One point of contention between the ownership coalition and the Assembly was brought to light during public testimony on Tuesday, when PTF’s Alaska State Director, Rick Whitbeck, noted that the Municipality of Anchorage lacked a vote among the ownership groups since 2020, when voters approved a sale of Municipal Light and Power to Chugach Electric.  A copy of the memorandum removing the Municipality as a voting member can be found here.

The Assembly engaged in extensive dialogue after that, with members questioning whether the change to the Charter would help re-acquire voting interest, and if the Assembly had the expertise to grant itself extended oversight on the Eklutna Hydro infrastructure.

The 9-3 vote, along liberal/conservative lines, almost assures litigation if the Assembly doesn’t like the final proposed reauthorization plan, which is heading to Alaska’s Governor, Mike Dunleavy, at the end of April. Whether the Assembly seeks an injunction or sues to stop the reauthorization, the legal costs will be felt by Municipality taxpayers and Chugach and Matanuska Electric ratepayers alike.   That will further widen the disconnect between the Assembly majority, with its self-aggrandized sense of importance, and the average taxpayer/ratepayer.