Generation engineer Dean Orbison told the assembly it could delay the purchase until Sitka has a key permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But that could push back completion of the Blue Lake expansion project by at least a year.

He also says he expects no opposition that could delay that permit.

“There is no one that’s complaining about what we’re doing. It’s supported by everyone. There’s nothing that’s not controversial. It’s just incredible. So I don’t see that’s going to be a problem.”

The winning bid came from Gilbert Gilkes and Gordon, a British hydropower equipment company. Only one other firm competed for the contract and its bid was considered not responsive, so it was rejected. Utility department staff said the winning company has a good reputation and its bid was 14 percent below the engineer’s estimate.

The assembly made other energy-related decisions at Tuesday’s meeting.

It approved spending up to $60,000 toward archeological studies needed for the proposed Takatz Lake Hydroelectric Project.

It authorized staff to apply for a $50,000 grant to study renewable energy options for municipal buildings.

And it voiced support for a separate, $125,000 grant application to fund a ground-source heat pump. The alternative energy system would be for The Japonkski Island Boathouse project being developed by the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society.

Assembly member Larry Crews worried the city was over-committing limited staff time to the project. And Public Works Director Michael Harmon, filling in for the city administrator, said he had some doubts.

But Harmon said it could be an informative demonstration project.

“It certainly fits within the realm of low carbon footprint. It helps go away from oil heat. If we can learn from a system like this it could possibly carry over to some other projects. So there certainly is value in that.”

The project will undergo further assembly review if the grant is awarded.

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