Assembly, AP&T to meet June 25
An Alaska Power and Telephone official is angling to pitch the proposed Connelly Lake project to the Haines Borough Assembly at an upcoming meeting.
The presentation is tentatively scheduled for June 25, Mayor Stephanie Scott said.
Project manager Glen Martin said he intends to ask the assembly to issue a resolution in support of the Connelly Lake hydro project, with the caveat that the support is based on future studies demonstrating the project would have no significant impact on the Chilkoot River fisheries.
“The purpose of the resolution would be to show that the Haines Borough supports this project as long as in the end the scientific data and project design show there would be no significant impacts to the environment,” Martin said.
The finding of no significant impact would eventually be based on scientific data collection during the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensing process as well as project design and mitigation for potential effects, he said.
Lynn Canal Conservation president Eric Holle said AP&T is getting ahead of itself in asking for support before being able to point to concrete data.
“It makes no sense for the borough to go on record as supporting the project until they see the results of these studies. They’ve got the cart before the horse, essentially – AP&T does,” Holle said.
Such a resolution would also beg several questions, Holle said.
“Who would be doing the studies? How thorough would they be? And with what degree of certainty would they be able to proclaim there would be no impact to the fisheries and other natural resources out there?” Holle asked. “What degree of risk is the Haines Borough willing to accept to allow AP&T to build this project?”
Martin said the borough’s support, even with the caveat, would demonstrate to the Alaska Energy Authority that the
Connelly Lake project is worth funding. It would also “allow the state to move forward with their review of whether to allow construction in the Chilkoot River portion of the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve,” Martin said.
Martin said the 2009 resolution passed by the assembly supporting hydroelectric power development in the Chilkat Valley was “too general” to accomplish these goals.
“Now that Schubee Lake has been ruled out as a hydroelectric site, we need to focus on Connelly Lake as the primary site of study,” Martin said.
Construction and operation of a hydroelectric project at Schubee Lake would be both expensive and “extremely difficult,” according to reports recently released by AP&T.
Mayor Scott, Martin, AP&T president Robert Grimm, and borough manager Mark Earnest met via teleconference May 9 to discuss the Connelly Lake project and what AP&T was asking from the borough. Scott called the meeting after feeling what she perceived as pressure from the company for the borough to support the project.
“I told Mr. Martin and Mr. Grimm that if they wanted to ask the assembly for support, they needed to do it themselves,” Scott said.
“I can’t carry this water. I can give them a space at the meeting. That’s my job,” she added.