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Murkowski wants Alaska to control small hydro

Alaska Senator Frank Murkowski has introduced a Bill to the US Senate that would let the state of Alaska, instead of the federal government, regulate small hydroelectric projects of 5MW or less.

Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said a similar measure had come close to being approved by both chambers of Congress last year, but the House had adjourned before members could pass the measure.

Calling the federal regulatory process too costly and cumbersome for many small hydroelectric projects to meet, Murkowski said the proposal would transfer regulatory control for the 5MW or less projects from FERC to the state. The lawmaker said Alaska already has the most expensive electricity prices in the US, and the licensing burden needs to be eased.

The state’s average residential price for power is 36% higher than the US average, and some Alaskans pay prices some 43cents/kWh, or five times the national median, Murkowski said.