Alaska House approves funding for 19.8-MW Sweetheart Lake hydroelectric plant

The Alaska House voted 36-0 in favor of $120 million in low-interest loans to help pay for the development of the 19.8-MW Sweetheart Lake hydroelectric project.

The money, earmarked for the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority by House Bill 143, is not a direct allocation, but gives AIDEA’s board of directors the power pay a builder up to $120 million once the constructor is selected.

“Affordable energy is a keystone of a healthy and sustainable economy,” said Rep. Cathy Munoz, R-Juneau, who proposed the legislation. “This bill would create jobs, provide clean, effective and affordable energy, and diversify our economy by helping to offset the high energy costs to industries such as mining and tourism.”

The bill will now go to the Alaska State Senate, whose Special Committee on Energy will discuss it in a special hearing March 31.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) received an application from Juneau Hydropower Inc. to license the Sweetheart Lake project in May 2014 for the plant, which will be located about 40 miles southeast of Juneau.

The project includes the construction of a 111-foot-tall concrete dam and associated generating facilities that would link to Juneau and the Snettisham hydropower plant via overland and undersea transmission cables.

Electricity generated by Sweetheart Lake would be used to power a new heating system for downtown Juneau and the Kensington gold mine.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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