SEAPA could revive Cascade Creek hydropower project
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied Cascade Creek LLC, a private company seeking to develop hydropower in Thomas Bay near Petersburg, a pre-development permit.
Cascade Creek previously had a preliminary permit to develop the Cascade Creek Hydroelectric Project. But now, it could be up to local entities to keep the project alive. The fate of the project is in the hands of Southeast Alaska Power Agency (SEAPA) to decide.
SEAPA, along with Petersburg Municipal Power & Light (PMPL) and Ketchikan Public Utilities have all shown interest in the project that would allow for greatly-needed power storage for Southeast.
“SEAPA is the logical one to take further action,” said Joe Nelson, PMPL Superintendent. Nelson also sits on the SEAPA board of directors.
According to Nelson, the first preliminary report for a hydroelectric project in Cascade Creek was filed with the government in 1965.
The main reason the project is still being considered today is that it would tie together Swan/Tyee, which was finished three years ago, with future hydropower projects further to the north.
“Cascade Creek is at the north end of the system and it would make the system more flexible. It would stabilize the system,” Nelson said. “It could have a significant amount of storage that the system doesn't have now.”
Power storage is necessary to serve communities during dry spells and cold snaps--anytime there is a significant need for power, but the ability to produce power is low, Nelson said.
If action is taken, SEAPA will have to call a special meeting. The SEAPA board isn't scheduled to meet until April. Nelson said he would rather not speculate regarding whether SEAPA will meet to discuss Cascade Creek.
The remote area for the Cascade Creek project is in the Tongass “roadless” area, Nelson said. “You can get permission to build a road. It's a hurdle you have to get over, but it's not a deal stopper.”
Another plan that SEAPA also may pursue is the possibility of increasing the height of the Ketchikan/Swan Lake Dam. This project could also increase storage, Nelson said.