Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Residents react to Connelly Lake decision


Residents and organizations in Haines have debated the merits and drawbacks of Alaska Power and Telephone’s proposed hydroelectric project at Connelly Lake for at least three years.

When the utility announced last week it would stop pursuing the project for the time being and surrender its preliminary permit, some celebrated and others fretted:

Jerry Lapp (Haines Borough Assembly member): “I think they should have developed it. I’m disappointed that it’s not going to go forward because I’d like to see more hydroelectricity here. Eventually the rates would go down, but they will never go down when you’re on diesel, because diesel goes up 3 percent a year. Water doesn’t go up 3 percent a year. Water’s always there.”

Craig Hagwood (commercial fisherman): “I’m glad to hear that they’re not going to be here. I just don’t want anything above where we fish. It just doesn’t seem right to me... I’m thrilled, but I always hear that these corporations come back. It just makes me nervous to know that they still can come back, even in the middle of the winter when nobody is around.”

Lee Heinmiller (Alaska Native Brotherhood secretary): “I would say everybody is thrilled... Between putting the power plant in the eagle preserve and ignoring the cultural aspects of the corridor, they were kidding themselves.”

Dave Berry (Chilkoot Indian Association tribal administrator): “I really didn’t ever think that Connelly would go forward. I thought always that the price to construct would be way more than this little community could ever pay for, even with grants.”

Dean Risley (commercial fisherman): “That’s too bad, because we do need it here...They’re running generators half the time and that just means more money coming out of everybody’s pocket. I was hoping they would pursue it, to have power we could rely on.”

Barbara Mulford (Chamber of Commerce president): “It’s definitely a deterrent for any new business... If they crunch the numbers and look at their utility expenses and if they aren’t able to reach the profit margin they need to operate a business, they aren’t going to come here.”

Robert Venables (Southeast Conference energy coordinator): “I didn’t see this abrupt end coming. I really thought that we’d have a more deliberative opportunity to review their feasibility study... Sound science and good economics: That’s really what the feasibility study hinges upon. It doesn’t really matter how hyped-up the supporters might be -- or to some degree the detractors. At the end of the day, it’s sound economics that make the project rise or fall.”