As state lawmakers extended their session past its Sunday (4-20-14) deadline, one issue of particular importance to Sitka remained in limbo: a loan to complete the Blue Lake dam expansion.
The city is seeking legislative approval for a low-cost loan from the Alaska Energy Authority, to fund the final stage of the Blue Lake project. The loan would be a cheaper way to fund the project than issuing a municipal bond, which is the city’s other option — and could potentially avert another electric rate hike down the road.
Sitka needs about $18.5 million to finish the Blue Lake project. The Energy Authority requires approval from both the House and Senate before the city can enter into negotiations for a loan.
Sitka Senator Bert Stedman added language authorizing the loan to House Bill 297, which passed the Senate on Thursday night. But the language was dropped over the weekend, in wrangling between the two houses.
For now, the loan authorization is not attached to a bill in either house, and the legislative session could end at any time.
The 90-day session was supposed to end on Sunday, but was extended when lawmakers could not reach agreement on several major issues, including education funding.