Susitna dam proposal presents twin conundrums

At a time when large dams are being taken down, not put up, the state of Alaska is proposing to construct one of the tallest and most expensive hydroelectric dams ever built in North America.

The Alaska Energy Authority is planning to build a 735-foot, $5.2 billion structure on the Susitna River in a largely empty part of Southcentral, an area watered by runoff from the arc of the Alaska Range. The dam, designed to generate up to 600 megawatts of electricity, would create a new power supply for more than two-thirds of the state’s population.

But in Alaska, where natural energy resources and wildlife are both foundations of the economy, the proposed dam presents twin conundrums.

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