Parnell open to funding Southeast hydro

Governor Sean Parnell.

Governor Sean Parnell. Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

Governor Sean Parnell’s recent budget proposal does not include any Southeast Alaska hydroprojects. But he says he still believes hydro is the solution to the region’s high energy costs.

At Thursday’s Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Parnell was asked what his administration was doing to bring low-cost energy to the region. He pointed to past support for hydroprojects and said Southeast is blessed to have them. But with less oil money, Parnell said he was forced to give other projects a higher priority.

“Because revenues are down, we’re going to look at those projects that we’ve already got underway and try to feed them to the next phase towards conclusion before we start new projects,” he said. “That’s the nature of where we are today. But I have left room in this budget for legislators to bring forward their districts priorities.”

Parnell urged the audience to bring specific projects to their legislators and have them work with his office to include them in the capital budget.

The governor met with community leaders in Sitka in October, who asked for $18.5 million to complete the Blue Lake Hydro expansion project. He also told reporters that he met with Sitka Senator Bert Stedman about such projects.

Parnell’s $1.7 billion capital budget proposal is about a third smaller than the spending plan approved by lawmakers during this year’s legislative session.

(APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez contributed to this report)

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