WASHINGTON, D.C. – At the request of the Alaska Congressional Delegation the U.S. Department of Energy is sending a senior energy expert to Juneau early next week to assess what can be done to speed the resumption of lower-cost hydroelectric power to Juneau.

Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young late today were informed by the Department of Energy that it will comply with a request by the Juneau City Borough and Mayor Bruce Botelho, passed on by the Delegation, and send an expert from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California to Juneau to confer with local and state officials and engineers at Alaska Electric Light & Power Co.

Allen Meier, a senior scientist in the Energy Analysis Department, will arrive either on Monday or Tuesday to conduct the likely two-day assessment. According to the Department he will advise on how and whether it is possible to install a temporary line or how to speed permanent repairs to the towers and the high-voltage line that was broken by the April 16th avalanches, south of Juneau.

“Obviously we want to do everything we can to help Juneau get off of expensive back up diesel generation and back to Snettisham’s hydroelectric power supplies as quickly as possible. We understand how expensive this outage will be for Juneau residents. We hope assistance from the experts at our national labs can add to the expert technical advice Juneau is already receiving from state officials,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

“My staff and I, along with the other members of our Congressional Delegation, have continued to consult with the Department of Energy and FEMA to evaluate what assistance may be available should the State request it,” said Senator Stevens. “Our office initiated this dialogue immediately upon learning of the avalanche last week and have regularly been in contact with local, state, and federal officials to explore ways we can get Juneau help. I am pleased that the Department of Energy has fulfilled our request that an expert be sent to Juneau to assess the situation. We hope that this visit will provide solutions for Juneau residents paying extraordinarily high costs for electricity.”

“I am pleased to see that the Department of Energy is taking our request seriously, and sending one of their experts to evaluate this emergency situation,” said Rep. Young. “With energy costs as high as they are these days we need to work to get Juneau off diesel and back onto hydropower as quickly and efficiently as possible. I am encouraged by the assistance we are receiving, and hope this visit and analysis will swiftly get Juneau back on track.”

The DOE technical review comes after the Delegation has been in contact over the past week with the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Administration to see what, if any, substantive federal assistance might be available in the aftermath of the avalanches. Consideration of some types of federal aid is dependent upon the State issuing a disaster proclamation under State law that is reportedly still under consideration.