[Headline from DRJ]
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A tiny Native village in southwest Alaska has turned to an emerging technology to transform the power of a local river into a sustainable energy source that’s expected to free residents from dependency on costly diesel fuel.
The village council in Igiugig is the first tribal entity in the nation licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to harness river water that’s not connected to a dam. That means the community of 70 is authorized to proceed with the complex project and that the system went through rigorous reviews by state and federal agencies, according to a U.S. Department of Energy official working with the village.
“It’s a huge milestone,” said DOE engineer Steve DeWitt, who manages the agency’s water power projects. He said a similar non-tribal system will be installed next year in New York City’s East River. But that river is tidal, not continuously flowing like the Kvichak River in Igiugig, he said.
The $4.4 million project is being paid for by state and federal funds, matching funds from the village and a development investment from Ocean Renewable, according to participants. Participants say U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, strongly supported the project and helped secure funding for it. Murkowski is the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Committee spokeswoman Tonya Parish said Wednesday that Murkowski, fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King wrote to Energy Secretary Rick Perry last year to urge the Energy Department to fund the project.
Read the whole thing.
I don’t have the expertise to tell if this is a PC government boondoggle or a worthwhile and creative attempt to provide reliable energy to appropriate areas. I hope it is the latter but the Bridge to Nowhere (which may have been overblown) has made me think twice about government spending, so I want to know more.
By the way, I am not trying to pick on Alaska. This is an interesting project and, to me, it makes an interesting post.