Feds take public testimony on proposed Susitna River dam

A federal agency is holding public "scoping" meetings this week for a large hydroelectric dam project proposed for the Susitna River.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was to take public testimony about the Susitna dam project starting Monday evening in Anchorage. The public meetings are the first step for a required federal Environmental Impact Statement. Through the environmental review, the federal government determines whether and under what conditions to issue a license for the project.

The latest cost estimate to build the dam is $4.3 billion, but some legislators think that is on the low side. The Legislature last year approved $66 million toward the project.

The proposed site is 184 miles upstream from the mouth of the Susitna River and upstream of Devil's Canyon. Backers have said that means the only fish whose route would be interrupted by a dam would be the king salmon population that can negotiate the powerful hydraulics of that stretch of river.

According to the Resource Development Council, future public hearings are set for:

Tuesday, Anchorage, Loussac Library, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tuesday, Wasilla, Menard Sports Center, 6 to 10 p.m.

Wednesday, Talkeetna, Su-Valley Junior and Senior High School, 6 to 10 p.m.

Wednesday, Glennallen, Caribou Cafe, 6 to 10 p.m.

Thursday, Fairbanks, Westmark Hotel, 6 to 9 p.m.

Thursday, Cantwell Community Hall, 6 to 10 p.m.

More information is on its website, www.susitna-watanahydro.org.

Anchorage Daily News