Daily News Miner
By Kate Ripley
A high-tech coal
burning plant in Healy will not cause higher power rates for South-central
residents, thanks to the Fort Knox gold mine, Golden Valley Electric
Association officials say.
Mike Kelly, GVEA
general manager, said the gold mine's electrical requirement of 35 megawatts
combined with projected growth in Fairbanks means Golden Valley will
continue purchasing as much, if not more, power from Anchorage-based
earlier feared the Healy project would mean Golden Valley would no longer
buy Chugach's surplus power. If that were the case, Chugach would lose
a major customer and likely have to increase rates to recoup its costs.
All that has changed
with the Fort Knox mine, Kelly told U. S. Department of Energy officials
during a public hearing on the Healy project Wednesday night.
will see no loss of business from Golden Valley," Kelly said. "This,
naturally, is good news for them."
Construction on the Fort Knox mine could begin this spring, and be in
full operation by 1995 if mine operators decide to proceed and all state
and federal permits are granted.
At least 100 people
attended the Department of Energy hearing in the Joy Elementary gymnasium.
The meeting began at 7 p.m., after a workshop and a question and answer
session, only 10 people had testified, including nine supporters and
one opponent of the project.
The new Healy plant
would produce 53 megawatts of power using two new technologies for burning
coal cleanly. The Fort Knox mine alone will eat up more than 70 percent
of the plant's output. Increased power demands in Fairbanks will consume
the rest, Kelly said.
The state-run Alaska
Industrial Development and Export Authority would build and operate
the clean-coal plant next to GVEA's 25-megawatt coal-fired plant at
Healy, 100 miles southwest of Fairbanks. Usibelli Coal Mine would sell
coal to the new plant.
State utility regulators
in September approved the clean-coal plant's sale of electricity to
GVEA. Environment groups have argued the electricity is not needed and
could harm air quality in Denali National Park.
is a fundamental threat to the planet," said Dave Lacey. "This
project is pork barrel."
The plant would
release 512,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year, according
to the Energy Department's draft environmental impact statement.
Carbon dioxide is
not an air pollutant but contributes to global warming.