Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Susitna Hydroelectric Project

***First article for the third reading quiz.***

    Over 500,000 citizens of the nation’s most resource rich state are urging their government to move forward with what Felicity Barringer of the New York Times writes in her article, Proposed Dam Presents Economic and Environmental Challenges in Alaska, “one of the tallest and most expensive hydroelectric dams ever built in North America.”  This 735-foot structure is designed to produce 600 megawatts of electricity, enough electricity to create a new power supply for more than two-thirds of Alaska’s population.  This Dam would be built on the Susitna River, which splits Anchorage and Fairbanks, the most populous areas within the state (the “rail belt region”). 
    The Associated Press revealed an estimated capital cost of $5.2 billion with $16 million worth of annual operation and maintenance costs. This is expected to be refined as the project progresses due to the 14 of 58 study plans that still need to be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  Those 14 will be determined on April 1, 2013.  If all goes well, the Alaskan Energy Authority (AEA) will continue in the licensing phase and plans to complete the FERC license application by the end of 2015, which is necessary for the plans to start building in 2017.
    The Susitna Hydroelectric Project has given the state of Alaska two dilemmas.  First, Alaska’s economists are debating which is better, weaning the state off of natural gas and creating a reliable source of energy, or building a spur off the proposed pipeline that would bring gas from the North Slope to the rail belt region. Second, Alaska’s environmentalists are at odds about what would be best for the environment, replacing fossil fuel energy with a renewable source free of greenhouse gas emissions or keeping the Susitna river’s watershed, salmon population, and ecosystem free of risk involved with construction of the dam.
    This project alone is a major step in the reduction of fossil fuel reliance for Alaska and the U.S.  It is projects like these that need to be conducted to gain a better understanding and knowledge of how renewables can either positively or negatively affect the environment and economy.  Dealing with possible negative effects on the environment at a local scale (salmon population) may be more beneficial for the environment on a federal scale or global scale (reduction of fossil fuel burning). Construction of this dam will provide more jobs for the state as well - even if jobs are lost as the state becomes less reliant on fossil fuels.
Whether both the dam and the pipeline are built or just the dam, Alaska is taking the right steps and precautions in their decision making. The state will become a role model, challenging other states to reach goals in using renewable energy sources.  It’s a boost like this that the U.S. needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the environment, spending on foreign fuel, and help alleviate the economy of debt.
--Maggie Kozloski

If the internal links do not work:
2) http://www.newsminer.com/news/alaska_news/article_063d3096-7ace-11e2-b9cb-0019bb30f31a.html

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