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Ketchikan appreciates seeing the Swan Lake reservoir expansion in the Alaska Senate Finance Committee capital budget released this week.
The project is expected to cost about $13.3 million. The community, which listed the project at the top of its priority list this legislative session, asked the state for $12.3 million. The budget indicates Ketchikan — if all remains as is — might receive $3.32 million.
That's $3.32 million more than it has. What Ketchikan also has is a monumental need to increase power for the community.
The project would heighten the dam at the Southeast Alaska Power Agency's Swan Lake hydroelectric dam reservoir. The 15 additional feet would provide a 25-percent increase in storage. The current dam is 174 feet high.
The demand for power increases with each newly created chargeable device or toy. One household alone no longer has only a refrigerator, a stove, a washer and dryer, plus multiple lights, to power; it also has televisions, hard drives, monitors, telephone-answering machines, fax machines, and any number of rechargeable cellphones, reading devices, games and toys.
In the electronic age, many households and businesses depend heavily on power.
The Swan Lake expansion also will reduce the community's dependence on diesel power, and it will be advantageous to Wrangell and Petersburg, which are part of the transmission system, as well.
This is a necessary and wisely funded project for Southeast Alaska.