City Could Scrap Makushin Geothermal Plans

Tuesday, August 05 2014

The city of Unalaska is ready to throw in the towel on geothermal energy.

City council will meet tonight to consider forfeiting a $1 million federal grant for developing Makushin Volcano. They’d transfer the money to the city of Akutan for a geothermal project there.

Unalaska received the funding back in 2009. At the time, city manager Chris Hladick said he would try to attract interest from private geothermal companies, and negotiate rights with the land and fluid owners.

But in a memo to council this week, Hladick wrote that those negotiations have ”stalled.” And the cost of developing Makushin has only increased -- to more than $300 million, according to Hladick. He’s encouraging council to approve an agreement with the DOE to give up the grant, and redeposit their matching funds into the city’s general coffer.

In other business, council will hold a public hearing on a proposal to tie Alyeska Seafoods into the city’s electrical grid.

And they’ll return to a long-running discussion about changing construction and zoning codes. Councilors asked for major revisions to those proposed changes at their last meeting. But they aren’t scheduled to take any final action tonight.

Council will also consider a resolution to let Delta Western build a fuel pipeline from its terminal on Ballyhoo Road directly to the city dock. The company is asking for an easement to build the fuel line directly across the road -- meaning the fuel wouldn’t have to make as many stops on its way from the terminal to vessels docked nearby.

Also tonight, the city will get updates from its investment manager and attorney.

And council’s also set to talk about how to implement pay raises for parks, culture and recreation and ports employees. The city has to come up with an additional $63,000 to implement the new salary scale for this fiscal year. Council will consider the expense in the form of a budget amendment.

Behind closed doors tonight, council is planning to discuss a contract to expand the landfill. Five new bids were received for the project last month. Council will talk about them in an executive session at the end of the meeting.

That meeting starts at 6 p.m. tonight at City Hall.

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