would carry adequate power to serve
the Ambler mining district, Red Dog
Mine, and would also provide a path
to market for wind projects on the west
coast of Alaska.
Phase four would extend the line
roughly three hundred miles to Bethel
and the surrounding area, with enough
power to serve communities in the area
as well as the Donlin Gold mine. The
Energy Project estimates this phase
would cost $510 million and would deliver power at between ten and twelve
cents per kilowatt-hour.
The final link in the project, with a
$1.2 billion estimated cost, would con-
nect the high-voltage line to Southcen-
tral. Linking to the larger market could
lower power costs for urban Alaskan
consumers, along with providing a path
to power for the Susitna-Watana dam
hydroelectric project, as well as other
tidal, wind, and geothermal projects.
The total project cost is significant—$6.76 billion. And with the state
in the midst of a fiscal shortfall, Kohler
says she isn’t hopeful the project will
gain financial backing anytime soon.
“There’s a lot of interest in the proj-
ect,” Kohler says. “But nobody is re-
ally able to make commitments to help
build out the system or help to generate
power, because there isn’t any assur-
ance that it will be built.”
The next logical step, Kohler says,
is if the state will show its support by
helping investigate the viability of the
“I still hope that’s going to happen,
but obviously in this period of belt
tightening, it’s not likely,” she says.
Although costly, Kohler and the
project supporters say the investment
would boost investment in the state by
opening up the possibility of industrial
activities outside the Railbelt areas,
where energy costs tend to be lower.
The state has already invested mil-
lions in other energy-related projects,
not to mention the money local utilities
have invested in upgrading or building
new power generation systems, that
Kohler and others on the Common-
wealth North and Energy Project teams
say would be better-served by being
connected to a statewide energy grid.
“The reality is, everything that has
occurred is not adding any capacity to
the system. We still have huge unmet
needs that result in our exporting our
resources raw. Until we start thinking
in that fashion, we’re always going to
be a colonial state. Our jobs are being
exported, our resources are being exported; we need to staunch that flow,”
For now, Kohler says she will continue to promote the idea in the hopes
that interest will coalesce and funding
will eventually become available. But
until that time comes, Kohler and her
cooperative, AVEC, are working on expanding grids on a much smaller scale.
“The Alaska Grid project is aspira-tional; it certainly doesn’t drive what
we’re working on here [at AVEC]. In
and back of the
in 2013. The
Plant is in the early
and will look similar.
Photos courtesy of
Alaska Village Electric