Juneau Hydropower a step away from crucial license
A Juneau startup that wants to build its own hydroelectric plant could soon get their rubber stamp from the federal government.Download AudioJuneau Hydropower owner Keith Comstock powers up his electric vehicle at Eagle Beach. (Photo by Casey Kelly/, KTOO – Juneau)Duff Mitchell, Juneau Hydropower’s managing director, said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the company’s environmental impact statement, or EIS.“We’ve gotten good marks, so to say, to make sure that we’re building this project properly,” Mitchell said.The EIS is proof that environmental concerns tied to building the hydropower plant have been addressed. It stops short of giving the company permission to build its plant but Mitchell said permission is coming.“The EIS needs to be recorded in the Federal Register and then the document will be submitted for the FERC commission for their final blessing,” Mitchell said.That final blessing is Juneau Hydropower’s FERC license. Mitchell isn’t sure when that will come but he expects it soon.Juneau Hydropower started implementing plans about seven years ago to dam Sweetheart Lake southeast of Juneau and build a hydroelectric plant.The proposed plant would power a district heating system that would remove heat from the Gastineau Channel and pipe it into Juneau homes and businesses. It would also allow the company to sell power to big industries.Mitchell said the EIS was drafted with input from state and federal agencies including the U.S. Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.“We actually worked with the agencies to come up with and to negotiate out all of the conditions. So when FERC made its ruling all of those issues were addressed to the satisfaction of agencies involved,” Mitchell said.A few of the things the company was required to checkout were impacts to fish, marine mammals and water quality.