MWH wins contract for hydropower engineering services for Alaska hydro project studies

MWH has been awarded a two- to five-year contract for hydropower engineering services by the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) to support the evaluation and development of hydropower projects along the Alaska Railbelt electrical grid, MWH announced.

The potential hydropower project(s) under consideration would be a key component to help achieve the state’s goal of producing 50 percent of electrical power from renewable sources by 2025.

Among the projects being examined is an updated project concept for the Susitna River in a remote area in Alaska’s interior between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Last year, AEA focused on two large hydropower projects for the Railbelt, including the Watana site on the Susitna River and Chakachamna, across Cook Inlet from Anchorage. In November 2010, AEA announced its decision that the Watana site should be the primary hydroelectric project for the Railbelt, and Chakachamna should be considered as an alternative.

The Susitna project could have an installed capacity of up to 600 MW.

Initial project efforts are funded by a $10 million appropriation from the Alaska Legislature. It is anticipated as much as $5 million of this funding will be allocated in FY2011 for engineering activities. Engineering activities include MWH assisting AEA in the evaluation of project selections, feasibility and cost estimates, data collection, conceptual design, permitting, and other required tasks to facilitate AEA submitting an application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for an operating license. The balance of funds may be used to support other contracts dedicated to environmental studies for the projects.

A larger Susitna river project was studied by the State of Alaska in the mid-1980s with the assistance of a joint venture that included Harza Engineering, which merged with Montgomery Watson in 2001 to form MWH. Chakachamna was also studied in the same period.

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