Nuvista Cooperative looks beyond Chikuminuk project

by Ben Matheson on March 23, 2014

The Nuvista Cooperative is moving on from the Chikuminuk lake dam project in Wood Tikchik State part. Moving onto what is the big question. The Nuvista board voted in February to put the hydroelectric dam project on the shelf.

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Nuvista’s Executive Director is Tiffany Zulkosky. She says the outlook for Chikuminuk was tough with the with current level of state capital project funding, plus the political and land use issues that come with building a dam in a state park.

“I think the board still finds merit in the potential of stable long term renewable power at Chikuminuk Lake, but the decision was based on looking at some of the things in front of us regarding the the project to look at other opportunities for near term, more immediate energy projects that could have a more immediate impact felt in communities in the Y-K Delta Region,” said Zulkosky.

As for what those projects are is still to be determined. Zulkosky says the team will take a hard look at their current initiatives. Those include Cluster Communities, in which services could be consolidated in places like Toksook Bay, Tununak, and Nightmute, plus another cluster in Emmonak, Alakanuk, Nunum Iqua. They’re also interested in interties. But there’s no solid direction yet.

“[We’ll] take a look at the projects on the table and take a look at the direction we’ve been going. We’ve been in a state of sort of taking a breath and figuring out the best past forward. I think it would be too early to say what would be the next main focus,” said Zulkosky.

What’s possible may depend on the status of capital funds that Nuvista has received for work on Chikuminuk. They received 10 million from the state and have spent four million so far. The board sent a letter to Senator Hoffman asking that the money be retained by the cooperative for work on a list of smaller, more near term energy projects. What those projects are is still unknown.

One area that Nuvista has shown interest in is that of long term regional energy planning. They’ve laid out the early step of a plan with Calista and AVCP.

“Our organization hopes to be part of the conversation, and I think it comes back again to the self determination issue. Any sort of regional energy planning and writing out own story in terms of where we’re going as a communities, where we’re going as region, I think it’s best when it happens by the region in the region for the region,” said Zulkosky.

The Nuvista board is made of representatives from Calista, AVEC, YKHC, AVCP housing, and other Y-K Delta communities.

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