In 2011, AEA received authorization to pursue a FERC license for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project to provide clean, reliable, and stable-priced energy for 100+ years and meet the state’s Renewable Energy Goal of 50% power generation from renewable sources by 2025. Due to the state’s fiscal constraints, former Governor Walker suspended licensing activities in 2017, following FERC’s issuance of its updated Study Plan Determination on the work completed on the 58 FERC-required environmental studies. The project has been put into abeyance, allowing the State to preserve the investment already made. While Governor Dunleavy rescinded the stop order February 22, 2019, no further movement toward licensing is planned at this time.
The remote dam site is located on the Susitna River at River Mile 184, more than 80 river miles upstream from Talkeetna and 30 miles above Devils Canyon, an anadromous fish barrier. The project includes two transmission corridors, one running north from the dam site to the Denali Highway and one running west from the dam site to the Intertie. One of the corridors would also provide access to the dam site. The overall nominal capacity of the three-turbine dam is 459 megawatts capable of producing 2,800 gigawatt hours of power annually, more than 50 percent of the Railbelt’s current demand.
The Susitna-Watana Hydro licensing effort produced volumes of information and data about the Susitna basin, the indigenous cultures, fisheries, wildlife and landscape. The information has been catalogued and stored online through AEA’s historical Susitna-Watana Hydro licensing website, the Alaska Resources Library and Information Service (ARLIS), and the Geographic Information Network of Alaska (GINA). The Susitna environmental data can be found at http://gis.suhydro.org. GINA also hosts a Susitna web-map application. In addition to the current information, more than 3,000 reports from the 1980s Susitna Hydroelectric licensing effort were compiled and are available online through ARLIS.