Susitna-Watana Hydro Economic Impact Quantified

New Study Shows Potential for Decades of Economic Boost

A recent study that examined the economic merits of Susitna-Watana Hydro concludes the proposed project would generate billions of dollars in energy savings for the Alaska Railbelt region, and would be a significant, long-term benefit to the economy in the form of workforce development and local spending.

Commissioned by the Alaska Energy Authority as part of Susitna-Watana Hydro’s FERC licensing effort, Northern Economics conducted an economic impact analysis and a benefit-cost analysis of the project, finding that the expected benefits outweigh the costs over the project’s life.

The study estimates energy savings of $11.2 billion during the first 50 years of the project. When additional benefits of the dam were factored, including the retirement of older generation facilities, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a reduction in the frequency of power outages, the energy cost savings surpassed $14 billion.

While energy savings is the primary benefit of the project, the study also estimates Susitna-Watana Hydro will provide thousands of direct and indirect jobs for many decades. The project would support up to 5,000 jobs preconstruction, with a construction workforce of about 12,000 people between 2010 and 2028, peaking annually in 2025 with a construction workforce of 1,155. In addition, it would generate millions of dollars in local spending — a projected $2.6 billion during construction and an estimated $26.5 million annually during operations.

Northern Economics is a consulting firm specializing in economic analysis of various industries in Alaska. Through its research, Northern Economics’ goal is to help society make informed decisions. To read the full study, visit the Documents page.