FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who owns the Eklutna Hydroelectric Project?
The Project is jointly owned by the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA), Chugach Electric Association (Chugach), and Matanuska Electric Association (MEA).
What is the 1991 Fish & Wildlife Agreement?
The agreement requires the owners of the Eklutna Hydroelectric Project to consult with state and federal resource agencies and interested parties to develop and propose to the Governor a program to protect, mitigate damages to, and enhance fish and wildlife resources affected by the construction of the Project by the Federal Government in the 1950s.
Why have the owners started the consultation process early?
The owners have initiated the consultation process required by the 1991 Fish & Wildlife Agreement more than three years early in order to provide adequate time to meet all the requirements of the Agreement. Additionally, the Anchorage Assembly and the Chugach Electric and Matanuska Electric board of directors have each passed resolutions to advance the 1991 Fish & Wildlife Agreement schedule.
With the owners starting the process early, why does the current schedule show no early end to the process?
As originally conceived in the Agreement, if the owners waited until 2022 to begin the required process, there would be only two years available to conduct all of the activity to prepare final recommendations to the Governor and for the Governor to make a decision. This would have been extremely tight and could possibly have adversely affected the quality of the information and the outcome. Starting in 2019 will provide additional time for more deliberative effort and engagement.
What is the current usage of Eklutna Lake water?
Water diverted from Eklutna Lake by the Eklutna Project is utilized for two main purposes, the production of the lowest cost renewable energy in Southcentral Alaska and as the source of 90% of the Municipality of Anchorage’s water supply. In a typical year approximately 90% of the diverted water generates renewable hydroelectric power and 10% of the water is used for the Municipality of Anchorage drinking water supply. In 2018 the Eklutna Project produced 177,438 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean energy. This is enough energy to power more than 24,600 residential homes for an entire year.
Can water be released from Eklutna Lake into the Eklutna River now?
Under current operations releases of water from the Eklutna Lake into the Eklutna River only occur when the lake overtops the spillway. On average the lake level is below the glacial moraine at the lake outlet about nine months of the year precluding the release of water during those months. During other months the water heights are highly variable.
In addition to operational constraints, the water rights granted by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) are for power generation and public water supply purposes only. Water cannot be released without investigating the safety, regulatory, legal, and permitting implications; as well as complying with the 1991 Fish & Wildlife Agreement.
There is a drainage outlet gate at the base of the spillway. The original purpose of this drainage outlet was to drain the pond that forms on the upstream side of the dam when the lake level drops in the winter and through the spring and early summer. After developing a study plan, replacing the old gate, consulting with downstream landowners, and obtaining all of the necessary permits and authorizations, including a temporary water use authorization from ADNR, the project owners released controlled flows from Eklutna Lake into the Eklutna River in the fall of 2021 to support the instream flow and geomorphology studies that are being conducted as part of the overall study program.
What potential protection, mitigation and enhancement (PME) measures will be included in the Fish & Wildlife Program?
The PME recommendations will be based on the scientific outcomes of the study program. The owners have no preconceptions as to the final recommendations that will be made to the Governor. The initial focus is to make sure that we all have the information needed for the Governor to make an informed decision.
When will the public be able to review and comment on the Fish & Wildlife Program?
The 1991 Agreement requires that all study plans, data, reports and comments will be made available to the parties [to the Agreement] and, upon request, to the public. The owners have established this website where information related to the development of the Fish and Wildlife Program will be made available, including final study plans, study reports and later in the process the draft Summary of Study Results and the draft Fish and Wildlife Program and comments and recommendations on those documents. We suggest that people bookmark this site and utilize it for easy access to the project schedule and documentation that is produced over the course of the investigation.
The Agreement further requires that once comments have been received from USFWS, NMFS, and the State Resource Management Agencies on the draft Summary of Study Results and the draft Fish and Wildlife Program, the owners shall hold at least one public meeting each in Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley to receive public comment on the draft Summary of Study Results, the draft Fish and Wildlife Program, and the comments and recommendations of the USFWS, NMFS, and the State Resource Management Agencies.
Would the owners like to reach agreement on protection, mitigation, and enhancement (PME) measures prior to sending recommendations to the Governor?
First and foremost, the owners hope that agreement can be reached through the consultation and information development phases so that there are no disagreements regarding the information that will be used to ultimately support the Governor’s decision making.
We would also prefer to have reached agreement on the content of the proposed Fish and Wildlife Program sent to the Governor if that is possible. However, we recognize that even with agreements on studies and information, that there can be differences in interpretation of study results, and in what actions should ultimately be recommended to the Governor. If possible, it would be preferred to send a document to the Governor that represents agreement with as many interested parties as possible. Should that not be possible, the Owners commit to documenting all agreements and remaining disagreements in the proposed Fish and Wildlife Program submitted to the Governor.
What must the Governor consider in his/her decision?
The 1991 Fish & Wildlife Agreement states that in order to ensure that the Eklutna Hydroelectric Project is best adapted for power generation and other beneficial public uses, the Governor shall give equal consideration to the purposes of:
- Efficient and economical power production
- Energy conservation
- The protection, mitigation of damages to, and enhancement of fish and wildlife
- The protection of recreation opportunities
- Municipal water supplies
- The preservation of other aspects of environmental quality
- Other beneficial public uses, and
- Requirements of State law
The Agreement further states that based on his/her review and consideration, the Governor shall establish a final Fish & Wildlife Program that adequately and equitably protects, mitigates damage to, and enhances fish and wildlife resources (including affected spawning grounds and habitat) affected by the Eklutna Hydroelectric Project.
How is the Eklutna Hydroelectric Project related to the lower Eklutna River dam?
The Eklutna Hydroelectric Project is unrelated to the historic diversion dam constructed in 1929 on the lower Eklutna River and removed in 2017-2018.
Does the project require a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission?
The USFWS, NMFS, and the State agreed that fulfilling the process to develop a Fish & Wildlife Program obviates the need for the utilities to obtain a license for the project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
What percent of power production does Eklutna hydro represent?
Nearly 6% of the project owners’ generation.
Thank you for your interest in the development of the Eklutna Fish & Wildlife Program.
If you have any questions regarding the project or program development, please complete the provided form, and a member of our team will get back to you.