The engineering report on the potential of Schubee Lake as a hydropower site doesn’t tell us much that’s new. A stream gauge wasn’t used to measure the flow coming out of the lake, so all we still have for flow and power potential are estimates. The engineers ruled out the use of an above-ground penstock, as was used at Goat Lake, and went instead with boring a hole from the lake to tidewater, a more expensive option. A transmission line parallel to the existing cable adds nearly $20 million to the estimate. Connecting to the existing cable would be cheaper. Overall, the report paints a picture of a project too expensive to develop.
Okay, now we need the same type of analysis for the Connelly Lake project. How much will a 625-foot-long and 60-foot-high concrete-lined dam built 2,000 feet up a mountainside cost? What about the access road, built through salmon spawning and rearing habitat, a bridge over the Chilkoot River, the penstock, powerhouse and transmission line? It may turn out that Connelly Lake is estimated to be too expensive to develop, too.
Both Connelly and Schubee have relatively small power potential, too small to really power cruise ships in port, and far too small to power a mine. Perhaps the focus should be on developing additional renewable power for the communities of Haines and Skagway for the times when demand exceeds generating capacity.
Has anyone noticed that it’s windy here in the winter?