AWWU director takes on second role leading Anchorage’s hydropower utility

Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility General Manager Mark Corsentino has taken on a second role with the municipality as director of the Anchorage Hydropower Utility.

In a unanimous vote, the Anchorage Assembly confirmed Corsentino’s appointment by Mayor Suzanne LaFrance during a meeting late Tuesday afternoon. Corsentino will take on the additional duty while continuing as general manager of AWWU.

“Mark is known across the municipality as a subject matter expert and someone we can rely on, and who his team has relied on for both steady and innovative leadership,” LaFrance said during his confirmation hearing Tuesday.

LaFrance and Assembly leaders said filling the role is a critical step toward reinstating the municipality’s voting rights within the Eklutna Hydroelectric Project owners group.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska revoked the city’s voting rights in 2020, saying the city did not have a qualified executive overseeing the hydropower utility. The position remained vacant until Corsentino’s appointment this week.

Corsentino meets the necessary qualifications, said Assembly Vice Chair Meg Zaletel.

“Primarily, he has experience in prudently running a utility and with power transmission along the Railbelt,” she said.


The municipality owns 53% of the Eklutna Hydroelectric Project, alongside the Chugach and Matanuska electric associations.

Corsentino’s appointment comes as Gov. Mike Dunleavy is considering a final proposal from the electric utilities in a legally required effort to return water flow and possibly salmon to much of the Eklutna River.

The Anchorage Assembly, the Dena’ina village of Eklutna and some conservation groups have opposed the plan because it would not restore water flow to the full length of the river, nor would it allow fish passage into Eklutna Lake.

Assembly leaders say the lack of voting rights has essentially left the Chugach and Matanuska electric associations in charge of the plan, despite the municipality being the majority owner of the dam and despite potential impacts to property taxpayers, utility ratepayers and the city’s drinking water.

The RCA in April denied a bid from the Assembly calling for it to restore the city’s voting power.

Corsentino’s role “is important to ensuring the municipality has a seat at the table when it comes to the Fish and Wildlife process and the future of Eklutna. It is also a position with a lot of potential for innovation,” LaFrance said.

While on the campaign trail, LaFrance said that the city should be working toward full restoration of the 12-mile river but, given the natural gas shortage facing Railbelt communities, “full restoration is not feasible at this juncture.”

Assembly Chair Christopher Constant in a statement Wednesday said the appointment “provides exciting opportunities for the municipality to pursue new forms of renewable energy in response to the Cook Inlet gas shortage.”

During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Corsentino said he is a licensed civil engineer who’s committed to upholding “integrity, objectivity, fairness and impartiality for the benefit of the public.”

Corsentino said he believes hydropower from Eklutna can be retained “but with the caveats and recognition of the problem that all energy sources create.”

“At the end of the day, the benefits they create, we have to be fair or partial and find common ground to come up with innovative solutions to reconcile and appease all the different interests,” he said.

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at