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Public comment opening for Kake-Petersburg Intertie


Submitted Illustration

This map shows the route of a proposed electrical transmission line that would tie Kake into the SEAPA power system via a substation in Petersburg. The 59.9-mile line would cross Frederick Sound via a submarine cable from Outlook Park and connect to Kupreanof near Prolewy Point before heading north and then west across Kupreanof Island to Kake.

The U.S. Forest Service will soon be accepting comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Kake-Petersburg Intertie, a proposed electrical transmission line that would connect Kake to a SEAPA substation in Petersburg.

The proposed project would bring cheaper power to Kake whose 550 residents are currently using costly diesel to power their homes and businesses.

"In 2011, the full retail cost of power in Kake was 62 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), more than five times the rate in the communities of Petersburg, Ketchikan and Wrangell," according to the DEIS.

The DEIS, released on Nov. 24, outlines four alternatives for the project and their potential environmental, economic and cultural impacts to the Tongass National Forest and the communities of Kake, Kupreanof and Petersburg.

The proposed action is Alternative 2, a 59.9 mile long line that would begin at a SEAPA substation in Petersburg and run underground along Sandy Beach Road to Outlook Park. From here a connection to Kupreanof near Prolewy Point would be made via a 1.2 mile sub-seafloor cable that crosses Frederick Sound and the Wrangell Narrows. From there 813 single-pole structures would be erected along 35.2 miles of existing roads along what's been dubbed the "Northern route."

"The remaining 22.1 miles (39 percent) of the overhead portion of the route would be via shovel trails supported by temporary matting panels," according to the DEIS.

The third alternative also runs along the "Northern route," and is similar to the second alternative save for the location and length of the water crossing. A 3.1 mile transmission line would run along the floor of Frederick Sound, originating near Sandy Beach Park.

Alternative 4 would follow a center-south route on Kupreanof, beginning eight miles south of Petersburg on Mitkof Island and crossing the Wrangell Narrows and Duncan Canal via submarine cables.

"This alternative would connect to the existing Tyee-Wrangell-Petersburg transmission line approximately 8 miles south of Petersburg and would require a new tap or small switch yard at this location," according to the DEIS.

Alternative 1 is the baseline alternative under which no action would take place toward building a transmission line.

This project has been in the works since 2010. Currently, SEAPA is the lead agency working on getting the intertie to a construction-ready state. The price tag is estimated at $60 million and some $3.8 million has already been appropriated for project development and permitting.

Tom Parker, supervisory natural resource specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, said the Notice of Availability for the project will be published in the Federal Register on Dec. 26, which means the public comment period will run Dec. 27 through Feb. 9. Public meetings in Petersburg and Kake will soon be scheduled for the project as well.

The DEIS can be viewed at the Petersburg Ranger District office or online. For more information of where to find the document and how to submit your comments see the legal notice on page 13.


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