Metlakatla intertie

Metlakatla Power and Light says a proposed two-mile undersea power and fiber optic cable that would connect the community with Ketchikan would reduce power and communications outages and allow the two communities to buy and sell surplus power.

But Ketchikan utility officials say they want more time to study the proposed intertie with Metlakatla’s utility provider.

In a state permit application, Metlakatla’s utility says the cable would connect Ketchikan’s Mountain Point substation to power lines near the Annette Bay state ferry terminal.

Metlakatla Power and Light didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

But staff with Ketchikan Public Utilities’ electric division say in a memo they and Metlakatla’s utility provider haven’t come to an agreement on power sales or the design of the undersea power and communications cable. 

KPU staff would like to ask the state for three more months to evaluate the project’s potential impacts, but they need the City Council to approve the request at tonight’s meeting before proceeding. 

Ocean Rangers

Ocean Rangers — independent environmental monitors stationed aboard cruise ships — are also on the council’s agenda. At the council’s request, city management has drafted a letter objecting to Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s 2019 veto of the program’s industry funding.

But since the council approved the letter earlier this month, things have changed. The state legislature is now considering a bill to replace the Ocean Ranger program with a new shore-based monitoring program. 

Half of the money that once funded more than two dozen licensed marine engineers onboard cruise ships would be redirected to pay to upgrade wastewater infrastructure in Southeast cruise ports. Some treatment plants — including Ketchikan’s Charcoal Point facility — operate on waivers from the federal Environmental Protection Agency because they fail to meet the agency’s standards.

Tourism best practices

In other business, the council will consider a set of “tourism best management practices” presented by the Ketchikan Visitors’ Bureau. That’s a voluntary program that aims to reduce the visitor industry’s impact on local residents. It’s based on a similar program set up by the City and Borough of Juneau in 1997.

Visitors’ bureau representatives are slated to hear feedback on the plan tonight from the city council.

Hospital lease

And, finally, city officials will discuss a newly-drafted updated lease and operating agreement for Ketchikan’s hospital in a closed-door session. In a memo, city management says the draft lease and agreement will serve as a starting point for future lease negotiations with hospital operator PeaceHealth.

Tonight’s Ketchikan City Council meeting gets underway at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall.