Upper Tanana Energy (UTE) has announced that it has received a US$500,000 grant from the USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Programme, for construction of the Yerrick Creek hydropower project near Tanacross, Alaska. Total project cost is estimated at US$19M.

Upper Tanana Energy is a renewable energy development partnership comprised of Tanacross (an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Corporation), the Native Village of Tanacross and local utility Alaska Power & Telephone Company (AP&T).

The Yerrick Creek Natural Energy Project will be a 1.5MW run-of-river scheme providing 4.9Mkwh per year – enough to replace 375,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually, or approximately 40% of electricity used in the Tok and upper Tanana region. Upper Tanana Energy will serve as a wholesale supplier of power to AP&T, providing a local renewable energy alternative to diesel fuel. The project aims to help address the current consumer energy crisis which is devastating rural interior Alaska due to diesel fuel prices

The project is located on lands owned by Tanacross and the State of Alaska, eliminating the need for an expensive and time-consuming federal permitting process. The project has received a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission non-jurisdictional determination, and a Finding of No Significant Impact.

Native Village of Tanacross representative Jeffery Weltzin stated: "Yerrick Creek will help provide more affordable energy to tribal members, and the region as a whole, while supporting tribal environmental stewardship values. We are grateful for the new support USDA has provided, and hope it will encourage participation by other funders and agencies."

The Upper Tanana Energy partners are seeking additional grant funds to complete the US$19M project. They are urrently applying for US$4M in State of Alaska Renewable Energy Fund grants, a US$1M grant from the US Department of Energy, and hope to apply to the State of Alaska for low-interest loans in the coming year.

AP&T currently owns and operates seven similar small hydropower projects in rural Alaska.