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Ketchikan power came up as a topic Tuesday in Washington, D.C., amongst all of the other talk about memos and shutting down the federal government for lack of a budget.
Congressman Don Young introduced a bill to transfer federal land to the state for the Swan Lake Hydroelectric Project.
The bill, if enacted, will correct a boundary line for the project. The line, as it is drawn, is an oversight from 1997, and isn’t disputed by the state and federal governments.
The hydroelectric project near Ketchikan supplies power to the First City, as well as Wrangell and Petersburg; all in all, to about 20,000 Southeast Alaskans.
The Southeast Alaska Power Agency operates the hydroelectric project, which has been in operation since 1984. It provides 62 percent of the three communities’ power.
The hydroelectric site was surveyed by the federal government in 1994 and land was transferred to the state in 1997. It wasn’t until 2012 that it was discovered that the survey contained an error and that an additional 25.8 acres of federal land needed to be included. That land was expected to be covered by water when the dam level is raised, a current expansion project.
Once the bill receives congressional and presidential approval, the federal government would survey the land and transfer the additional acreage to the state.
This bill should pass easily through Congress — certainly much quicker and with less fanfare than the federal government’s next budget.
And Ketchikan, along with Wrangell and Petersburg, will applaud.
In this case, it’s the right thing to do, and Congress likely will do it.