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Homer Electric Association Falls Creek Hydropower Plant, AK

STATUS: In progress, with opposition

TYPE: Hydropower

OPPOSITION: Friends of Cooper Landing, a non-governmental NIMBY organization.

PROSPECTS: Indeterminate

BACKGROUND: Nonprofit Homer Electric Association (“HEA”) and its for-profit partner, Wind Energy of Alaska doing business as Kenai Hydro Limited Liability Corp. (“KHL”), secured a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to study generating electricity from Crescent, Grant and Ptarmigan Lakes as well as Falls Creek, all on Chugach National Forest and State of Alaska land. This Pre-Application document describes a combined Grant Lake/Falls Creek Hydroelectric Project that includes a proposed Falls Creek development to divert water from Falls Creek to Grant Lake in order to supplement generation capacity at the powerhouse located on Grant Creek. The Falls Creek diversion is no longer under consideration.

Opposition group Friends of Cooper Landing (“FOCL”) has filed for intervenor status with FERC and plans to oppose the project, even at this preliminary phase. FOCL cite possible impacts from the proposed diversion pipelines and access roads, including threats to the scenic area's salmon spawning and its tourist-based economy. Crescent Lake is a popular hiking and biking destination. Opponents argue that the flows of Crescent Creek west toward Cooper Landing would be reduced. Specifically, FOCL's motion with FERC alleges:
 
•  "[FOCL recognizes] the proposed hydroelectric project to be high-impact in nature, directly contrary to the best interests of business, property owners and residents of Cooper Landing."
•  The project is "egregiously insensitive to traditional public use, natural values and the local economy."

The motion continues: "This poorly conceived hydroelectric project will negatively impact tourism and can push the current marginal economy to the tipping point . . . It would be far more appropriate and in the highest public interest to conserve this area as parkland than to allow it to be permanently degraded by a minor hydroelectric project of questionable merit."

In August 2010, KHL asked FERC for additional time to study the proposed Grant Creek project and submitted a revised schedule with an additional two years of study with a draft license application set for May 2013.  The original schedule called for the draft license application to be submitted in May 2011. There was no mention of whether Fall Creek would be delayed as well.

SOURCES: Anchorage Daily News: http://www.adn.com/3221/story/675881.html
Home Electric Associations: http://www.homerelectric.com/SavingEnergy/RenewableEnergy/tabid/118/Default.aspx;
HydroWorld: http://www.hydroworld.com/index/display/article-display/3698376636/articles/hrhrw/News/Alaska_awards_11_million_to_15_hydro_projects.html;
Kenai Hydro: http://www.kenaihydro.com/about_the_project/project_history.php;
Kenai Radio: http://radiokenai.net/kenai-hydro-revises-grant-lake-license/

Last updated November 5, 2010