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State budget holds funds for Southwest Alaska wind, water projects

Jim PaulinDutch Harbor Fisherman

Wind energy and air travel, docks and hydropower are among the elements of the state capital budget marked for Southwestern Alaska. And millions are for aviation in a region where flying is routine, where "going into town" means spending hours on a plane headed into Anchorage. Wind and water power projects for Bristol Bay and Aleutians communities did well in Juneau. While the governor still has a little time left to delete items, the Legislature gave the go-ahead to numerous local construction projects.

Wind money is blowing toward three Bristol Bay villages. The Lake and Peninsula Borough has $10,000 for a wind reconnaissance study for the Kvichak River village of Levelock. The borough also has $60,000 for a wind feasibility study for the Alaska Peninsula village of Egegik. And Kokhanok Electric is funded for $185,000 for a high-penetration wind energy project for the Lake Iliamna village.

Water power projects are flowing into both regions. King Cove could get $2.6 million for the Waterfall Creek Hydroelectric Project. The Lake Iliamna village of Pedro Bay is looking at $290,000 for the Knutson Creek Hydro Electric Project Design and permitting.

The Southwest School District will receive $486,000 for the New Stuyahok heat recovery project. And the G and K Electric Utility in Cold Bay is in line for $30,000 for a waste heat recovery project.

Akutan's city government was awarded $3.1 million for the harbor road project, airport access project, and harbor development projects. Akutan's new harbor is not yet linked to the village by road.

Army National Guard projects in two Bristol Bay communities include $500,000 for the Dillingham Readiness Center, and $150,000 for deferred maintenance at the Manokotak Armory, via the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Domestic violence shelters received legislative funding for building maintenance: Dillingham's Safe and Fear-free Environment, $42,500 for facility repairs and upgrades; Unalaskans Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence, $24,400 for siding replacement.

Transportation support will pump millions into ports, road and airports throughout Southwest Alaska. The legislature added $6 million toward a road project eventually linking Iliamna and Nondalton with a bridge across the Newhalen River.

The controversial proposal for a road between Cold Bay and King Cove was funded with $2 million going to the Aleutians East Borough, "including potential litigation support," according to the language in Senate Bill 18. The road would cut through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, and is opposed by environmental groups. Supporters say it would help save lives in medical emergencies when the King Cove village airport is weathered in, and move fresh salmon and other fisheries products to the larger airport in Cold Bay with a runway nearly 2 miles long.

Unalaska is getting help with federally mandated water and sewer upgrades, at $3.09 million for a new wastewater treatment plant, and $3.09 for a new drinking water treatment plant. Additionally, the bill gives the seafood city $1 million towards a new generator for the city powerhouse.

Akutan is in line for $1.6 million to repair damage to a dock caused by the M/V Tustemena, and early steps toward replacing that venerable and increasingly high-maintenance motor vessel got a big boost. The solons in Juneau approved $10 million for the planning and design of the passenger and vehicle ferry, which was actually named in the bill as the "F/V Tustemena," apparently a typographic error, because the F/V designation normally means "fishing vessel."

In another maritime fix, Cold Bay is earmarked for $400,000 for dock repairs.

The spendiest airport project sends $6.4 million to Adak for runway safety area improvements.

King Salmon's airport is looking at $4 million for runway repaving, and $1.5 million for a sand and chemical storage building.

Cold Bay's airport is marked for over $3 million in two projects, $2.9 million for an approach lighting system replacement, and $332,000 for an airport rescue and firefighting building.

The amphibious airport on the water of Shannon's Pond in Dillingham is getting $125,000 for a seaplane base master plan. Shannon's services sport hunters and fishermen.

The Kokhanok Village Council is getting $40,000 for a septic pumping truck for the Lake Iliamna village.

Adak didn't get nearly what it wanted for community development, denied funding for hydroelectric, historic preservation, harbor, and swimming pool maintenance. But the Legislature did approve $30,000 for energy-saving L.E.D. streetlights and city hall exterior lighting.

This story first appeared in The Bristol Bay Times. Jim Paulin can be reached at paulinjim(at)yahoo.com