By Jenny Neyman
Wind Energy Alaska, partly owned by Cook Inlet Region Inc., a Southcentral Alaska Native-owned corporation, has announced it is pulling its support from Kenai Hydro, a joint venture with Homer Electric Association to investigate the feasibility of installing hydroelectric projects on streams in the Kenai Mountains near Moose Pass.
“What we’ve determined is, looking at this project, it’s not the best use of our time right now, because we have a number of things going on,” said Jim Jager, director of corporate communications for CIRI, also speaking on behalf of Wind Energy Alaska. “… We have quite a few different projects in the hopper right now, and given what we’ve been learning about the Kenai Hydro projects, and given everything else, we’ve determined that Kenai Hydro doesn’t make sense for CIRI or Wind Energy Alaska to be participating in.
“We’re handing the project over to Homer Electric, and Homer Electric will decide whatever it decides in terms of pursuing the project. But we’re just saying it’s not the right project for CIRI or for Wind Energy Alaska at this time.”
Joe Gallagher, HEA spokesman, said in an e-mail Monday that “HEA believes that the project(s) could be feasible.”
“Kenai Hydro has not made a decision to terminate the licensing process. The next step is a public meeting, tentatively scheduled for early November,” Gallagher wrote.
CIRI is a 50-50 partner in Wind Energy Alaska with enXco Inc., which seeks to develop renewable energy projects. Wind Energy Alaska joined with Homer Electric Association to form Kenai Hydro LLC. Kenai Hydro was granted preliminary permits by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October 2008 to study the feasibility of installing small-scale hydro projects on four waterways in the Moose Pass area — Crescent Lake, Ptarmigan Lake, Grant Lake and Falls Creek.
On Aug. 6, Kenai Hydro submitted a Pre-Application Document and Notice of Intent for a combined project involving Grant Lake and Falls Creek, which would generate an estimated 4.5 megawatts of electricity.
On Sept. 25, Kenai Hydro submitted notice to FERC that it wished to relinquish its preliminary permits on Ptarmigan Lake and Crescent Lake, saying that, after initial investigation and meeting with stakeholders, the projects appeared to be unfeasible.
Work still is progressing on the Grant Lake/Falls Creek project, with a joint meeting between involved agencies, organizations and the public tentatively scheduled for Nov. 12 in Kenai, where Kenai Hydro will review and discuss study plans and summarize the project description and potentially affected resources outlined in the Pre-Application Document. The meeting initiates a 60-day comment period on the study plans and information from the Pre-Application Document, according to Long View Associates, a Kenai Hydro contractor. Project scoping meetings also are tentatively being scheduled for the range of Dec. 8 to 10 in Kenai.
Jager said the decision for Wind Energy Alaska to withdraw support from Kenai Hydro was not made suddenly.
“It’s not something that they’re (Kenai Hydro’s other partners) just finding out about. We have talked with them (Homer Electric) as recently as this morning. We’ve also talked with them or sent letters and had communications leading up to this. And I don’t know what the formal date is, I’m not sure that’s important so much as they’ve been apprised of our position that we’re giving them the project and letting them make their decision,” Jager said Monday. Continue reading