Support for the Soule Lake Hydropower Project

Brian Mills -Director, Permitting and Siting
Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE-20)
US Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20585

RE: OE Docket No. PP-387

August 28, 2013

Dear Brian Mills:

The purpose of this letter is to express the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce’s support for Alaska Power & Telephone’s (AP&T’s) Soule River Hydropower project -a 77.4 MW project located 9 miles southwest of Hyder, Alaska, and designed for commercial export of clean, renewable hydropower to markets identified in North America.
The Soule project will provide additional, affordable renewable energy from southeast Alaska as an alternative to other energy sources which have higher operating costs and/or produce higher levels of carbon dioxide emissions.

Construction of this $330m project has the potential for faHeaching economic benefits within a variety of Ketchikan’s industrial sectors, including, but not limited to: construction; marine; transportation; retail; professional services; and human services. Additional jobs, benefits, and supply chain expenditures will occur through operation and maintenance of the project over its 50+ year lifespan. The Soule project will create a new, sustainable energy export industry and legacy jobs for Southeast Alaskans facing an average of 15% unemployment. At present, 90% of SE Alaska is federally owned, yet communities face high poverty and unemployment due to the lack of a pro-active approach to sustainable resource development.

  • Research presented by Alaska Power & Telephone in a recent report titled: Soule Hydro: Economic Viability and US National Benefit demonstrates that:
    On a levelized cost-basis, hydroelectricity is one of the most affordable energy sources available to the us for new generation in 2018 and beyond. As an added benefit, hydropower provides predictable pricing which is not tied to market volatility associated with commodities such as natural gas, petroleum products, and coal.
  • According to federal Social Cost of Carbon econometrics, Soule will avoid $609m in carbon emissions versus natural gas alternatives and $1.3b versus coal-fired alternatives using clean Alaskan hydropower. When compared to coal-fired generation, the project pays for itself almost four times over.

The Soule hydropower project is one of hundreds of examples of renewable energy projects available within the Tongass National Forest which can be developed for export to the continental grid. Such projects can provide residents of North America with an affordable domestic alternative to fossil fuelbased generation, while also creating new jobs and a new renewable energy export industry for residents of southeast Alaska -an area of the nation which suffers from significant socioeconomic disparity.
We wish to express our support for this pioneering effort to create a new export industry for southeast Alaska, and we urge federal officials to adhere to the following recommendations:

  • Proceed with timely federal permitting activities, and other authorizations required to make energy produced by the Soule hydroelectric project available to the North American electrical grid.
  • Adopt measures which support, encourage, and expedite the export of southeast Alaskan hydroelectricity –from Soule and other projects –to the North American electrical grid.
  • Amend the Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP) to include: 1) a renewable energy plan allowing for active management of hydro and other renewable energy sources; and 2) a renewable energy Land Use Designation (LUD) which will both overlay and coexist harmoniously with other, existing LUDS. These components of an amended TLMP should specifically address and support export of southeast Alaskan hydroelectricity from the Soule project and other, similar projects. The present Tongass Land Management Plan fails to recognize renewable energy as a resource within the Tongass National Forest.

Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,
Chelsea Goucher
Business Manager
Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce
chelsea@ketchikanchamber.com

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