As Wasilla continues to grow, so does its need for more energy -- an issue that has city leaders and the Matanuska Electric Association at odds over the lines meant to supply that power.
On Tuesday, dozens of local business owners in Wasilla gathered at a Chamber of Commerce meeting to hear an update from MEA officials regarding transmission lines. MEA has planned to install above-ground towers carrying lines into Wasilla's downtown core, but local officials have moved to have the co-op bury them instead -- a move which MEA says will greatly increase the project's cost.
MEA laid out four options at Tuesday's meeting: burying the transmission lines underground, doing nothing at all, appealing a recent decision to run the lines along the Parks Highway, or rerouting the lines outside of town.
Each proposal comes with a set of drawbacks, ranging from rolling blackouts to an additional $40 million price tag for the underground option, a cost that MEA says would inevitably fall on the consumer.
"As a co-op, that's what we have to do," said MEA spokesperson Julie Estey. "Whoever causes the cost needs to pay those costs as far as being a cooperative -- so the rates, the extra charge, would be directly given to the residents of Wasilla."
The public process has been ongoing for more than a year. MEA officials say a final decision is expected to be made by the association within the next few months.