Fishhook to Pittman Transmission Line and Substation Siting Study

Feedback and Study Timeline Extended

MEA is extending the timeline for the study to allow for additional member feedback and further evaluation of the routes into January 2022. While MEA will continue to take comments throughout the process, those comments received by Friday, October 29, 2021 will be incorporated in the next updated analysis. Comments received after October 29th will be incorporated into the final analysis. Also, in response to member feedback, MEA will host an additional information hearing in January of next year. The new tentative study schedule is outlined below:

• October 29, 2021 – feedback due for incorporation into updated transmission line route and substation sites analysis.

• December 2021 – updated analysis shared with Project Community Working Group for feedback.

• January 2022 – information hearing to review the evaluation process and updated analysis, including comments received through October 29th. During this hearing, members and the public will have the opportunity to speak.

• February/March 2022 – we will delay our original decisional document timeline and now plan to submit it during the first quarter of 2022 to the Mat-Su Borough.

If you have any questions regarding this study and project, please don’t hesitate to contact us at routingstudy@mea.coop or use the study feedback form at the bottom of this page to submit feedback directly to us.

Virtual Open House Presentation

Watch our video presentation of the Open House Materials that were shared with attendees at the Sept. 29, 2021 Open House. MEA held its second Open House and Project Feedback Session on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Tanaina Elementary School.

Update on Route Options as of September 2021

Please note the addition of the northern yellow route (Central E, G, and West F) on the second map below. Based on member feedback following our first Open House members asked MEA if we could explore an additional route option beyond the preliminary route links outside of the study area. Sensitivity data was processed and a northern route option was produced and scored using the same criteria as other route links. This northern route option scored comparingly well to other route links, however, MEA would like additional member feedback on this northern route specifically as it is a newer route option for members to consider.


Over the past few months we have been working to develop some initial preferred routes for a transmission line and two substation sites from the Fishhook to Pittman areas. The map below shows the highest scoring route options based on a variety of factors including sensitivity data, member feedback, and Borough planning information. Please review the updated route options and let us know your feedback and ideas using the feedback form at the bottom of the page. To view a higher resolution file of all of the project materials and maps, please click here (.pdf).


View flyover video simulations of the top two high scoring transmission line route options

Fishhook to Pittman Transmission Line and Substation Siting Study

At the beginning of 2021, MEA began a siting and routing study to identify locations for two new substations and a route for constructing a 115 kilovolt (kV) transmission line between the existing McRae Substation to the existing O’Neill Tap to support population centers between and above the Palmer and Wasilla core areas. Based on recent system planning studies, the load growth in MEA’s service area from Palmer-Fishhook to Pittman requires MEA to install additional transmission and substation facilities to meet current and future power loads. Due to the increased population in the area coupled with an aging power-delivery system, MEA has developed a long-range plan to construct and upgrade infrastructure that will increase capacity and provide alternate, redundant transmission routing to its substations. Having these alternatives and redundancies in place will increase power reliability for our members and prevent future power load issues which could be costly and timely to fix.

Population Growth

Over the past 10 years, the Mat-Su population has increased by more than 20,000. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development projects an additional 65,000 people in the Mat-Su by year 2045. It is anticipated that growth will be primarily residential, with some commercial growth as well. MEA has identified the current power improvement study area based on results of our system studies indicating where power and infrastructure is most needed to bring reliable power to our members.

Map of Project Study Area for Transmission Line Route and two Substations

Currently, the McRae Substation is fed from a radial transmission line, which means there is only one power source for a group of customers—a power failure on that line would interrupt service to customers. Providing an additional transmission line into the McRae Substation would loop in the transmission and increase reliability. The new transmission line will also provide a parallel path for power to flow from MEA’s Eklutna Generation Station into the Wasilla area to increase capacity and provide redundancy in the event of an outage that affects the entire system.

Similar transmission lines can be seen along the Palmer-Wasilla Highway.

Transmission Line Structure Type and Substations


The transmission line MEA is considering to build and operate would be a 115-kV overhead, transmission line on wood single-pole structures. The pictures shown above are examples of the transmission lines MEA is considering including a single circuit transmission structure with distribution underbuild and/or a wood pole transmission line with double circuit. The standard width of the transmission line right-of-way is typically 100 feet of clearance around the lines and structures; part of the right-of-way could include existing roadways that already have land cleared around them.

MEA has built similar 115-kv transmission lines to serve residential customers including along the Palmer-Wasilla Highway.

The transmission line routing criteria includes:

•       Use existing compatible rights-of-way such as paralleling other transmission lines, railroads, and other utility corridors.

•       Parallel property lines, section lines, or natural or cultural features rather crossing through properties.

•       Minimize effects on private property owners. MEA will remain cognizant of effects that facilities may have on communities, including social and economic effects.

•       MEA will maximize the use of existing access and minimize construction of new access roads where feasible.

•       MEA will look at sites for the substations (within the siting areas) and alternative routes for the transmission line that are technically feasible from the standpoint of design, engineering, and constructability.

•       The route alternatives need to facilitate locating new substation sites. As mentioned, identifying preliminary substation sites will occur simultaneously with identifying route alternatives for the transmission line.

•       MEA will need to consider the costs associated with the substation sites and alternative transmission line routes, including the initial capital costs of constructing the facilities as well as the long-term operational costs.


Substation Siting Study to Support Residential Growth

In addition to the transmission line route, MEA is also studying two sites to build and construct residential substations. This image above shows the preliminary siting areas for the two proposed substations in the Meadow Lakes and Palmer-Fishhook areas.

Why have these areas specifically been identified for substations? MEA’s transmission and distribution system planners conducted an electrical load analysis to determine the geographic areas where the new substations are most needed to support the existing power load and found the following results:

•       The Meadow Lakes area to the northwest of Wasilla is experiencing massive power load growth with several large subdivisions being built.

•       Additionally, the Palmer-Fishhook area has grown considerably in recent years as well increasing load growth.

•       MEA’s distribution system requires reinforcement with additional substations that are closer to the load in order to support the nominal voltage in these areas. These substations will reinforce the system to be more reliable now and in the long-term.


MEA has some important considerations when looking at potential placement of a residential substation. The substation siting criteria includes:

·        The substation sites are located where the need/power load is (for example a substation that is meant to serve residential customers in Meadow Lakes cannot be placed in Willow).

·        To accommodate the facilities and equipment required for a substation, available land should be a minimum of 2 acres.

·        The preference is to locate on undeveloped land such as vacant, industrial, or commercial lands. The potential sites should be near a road for year-round access to the site and 100-year floodplains should be avoided.


Study Timeline

MEA has identified the general study area based on results of system studies indicating where the power is most needed. The bulk of the preliminary siting and routing was started in the Spring of 2021 and has been updated as the study has progressed. Within this study area, we've been collecting existing and planned land use data and environmental resource data, and working with different agencies such as the Alaska Department of Transportation to get important information. We started our public and member outreach process from the very beginning of this study in January of 2021. We are a member built-and-led electric co-op and our members’ feedback and ideas are important to us as we plan for our future power generation.

Updated Study Timeline as of October 2021


MEA is extending the timeline for the study to allow for additional member feedback and further evaluation of the routes into January 2022. While MEA will continue to take comments throughout the process, those comments received by Friday, October 29, 2021 will be incorporated in the next updated analysis. Comments received after October 29th will be incorporated into the final analysis. Also, in response to member feedback, MEA will host an additional information hearing in January of next year. The new tentative study schedule is outlined below:

• October 29, 2021 – member and public feedback due for incorporation into updated transmission line route and substation sites analysis.

• December 2021 – updated analysis shared with Project Working Group for feedback.

• January 2022 – Public information hearing to review the route evaluation process and updated analysis. During this hearing, members and the public will have the opportunity to speak.

• February/March 2022 – plan for submittal of decisional document to the Mat-Su Borough.

Second Project Open House Held on September 29th

MEA hosted its second public open house for the Fishhook to Pittman Power Improvement Project on September 29, 2021 at Tanaina Elementary School. More than 100 members signed in at the event. Attendees were able to learn about the project study, the current high scoring routes for the transmission line, and could look up their property to see whether the project may impact them directly. Attendees were also able to provide their feedback on the routes and study and received project comment feedback forms they could mail at a later time. For members who were not able to attend the Open House, a virtual presentation of the Open House materials is available at the top of this page.

First Project Open House Held on May 19th

MEA hosted its first public Open House for this study on Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 at the Government Peak Chalet from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The Open House included stations where members could learn about various phases and aspects of the project, ask additional questions, and provide feedback. A second Open House will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Tanaina Elementary School to get feedback on the higher scoring route options.

Developing Preliminary Route Links and Substation Target Areas

MEA has conducted three sessions with its project community Working Group to put together preliminary route links for a transmission line and substation sites. Additionally, we have worked with local agencies and tribal governments to identify a variety of factors including wetlands, parks, private airstrips, residences, agricultural land and other valuable information to create maps for project development.

Community Engagement Summary

  • 132 comments received following the first Open House/ 2% of 7,477 mailings for May 17 Open House  
  • 7,947 postcard mailings were sent for the September 29 Open House and to invite member feedback
  • 7,426 landowners identified within 0.5 mile of centerline of route links for May 17 Open House  
  • 7,914 landowners identified for expanded routes detailed at September 29 Open House
  • 23 members signed in at the May Open House
  • Held 3 Working Group Meetings
  • Provided 11 Community Council briefings and updates for the Meadow Lakes CC, North Lakes CC, Palmer Fishhook CC, and Tanaina CC.
  • Provided 8 agency briefings including for: Mat-Su Borough Planning Commission, Department of Transportation, Knik Tribe, Chickaloon Tribe, Wasilla City Council, Mental Health Trust Lands, Alaska Airman's Association, and Alaska Farmland Trust. If you’d like to request MEA to come speak at your organization about this study and project, please email us at: routingstudy@mea.coop

Land Use Map of Study Area

The Land Use Map shows a variety of existing physical structures, easements, parks, airstrips and other land use features for consideration in developing a transmission line route and two substation sites.

To view a higher resolution file of all of the project materials and maps, please click here (.pdf).

Opportunities and Constraints Map

Focus Group members were asked to evaluate a variety of factors (such as residences, airstrips, trails, etc.) and assign a sensitivity level from low to very high. Sensitivity is defined as the measure of probable adverse response of each resource to potential direct or indirect effects associated with construction, operation, and maintenance of a transmission line or a substation site. Areas highlighted in orange show a higher sensitivity level compared to areas shown in blue which have a moderate/low sensitivity level. Based on the sensitivity levels, opportunity routes were developed (in the blue lines) to show areas with the greatest amount of probability to construct and build a transmission line with the lowest amount of impact.

Preliminary Route Links Shared at the May Open House and Online

Following the opportunity areas, preliminary route links were developed (mostly on top of the opportunity areas). Notice that multiple route links have been identified but ultimately one single route will be created to connect from the existing O’Neill Tap to McRae Substation and the two residential substations that are sited in the large round circles on the map. Each route link was assigned a number and we asked for feedback from members on their preferred route links to connect the transmission line from east to west on the preliminary route map.

Added Preliminary Route Links in June and July Based on Initial Member Feedback

Based on member feedback provided throughout the summer, as well as additional planning data, MEA added additional route link options following our first Open House (highlighted in purple below). These additional route links were reviewed and scored along with the rest of the route options in the process of creating the preferred routes. Please note the addition of the northern yellow route (Central E, G, and West F) on the second map below. Based on member feedback following our first Open House, members asked MEA if we could explore an additional route option beyond the preliminary route links outside of the study area. Sensitivity data was processed and a northern route option was produced and scored using the same criteria as other route links. This northern route option scored comparingly well to other route links, however, MEA would like additional member feedback on this northern route specifically as it is a newer route option for members to consider.

To view a higher resolution file of all of the project materials and maps, please click here (.pdf).

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs


We have been getting a lot of great questions from members about different aspects of the project. To review the commonly asked questions and answers, please click here (.pdf).

Provide your Feedback on the Higher Scoring Route Options

Over the past few months we have been working to develop some initial preferred routes for a transmission line and two substation sites from the Fishhook to Pittman areas. The map below shows the highest scoring route options based a variety of factors including sensitivity data, member feedback, and Borough planning information. Please review the updated route options and let us know what feedback you have using the feedback form at the bottom of the page. For example, do you prefer the East-C, the East-E or the East-A link to connect from the existing O'Neil Tap line and why?

*Please note, based on member feedback following our first Open House, members asked MEA if we could explore an additional route option beyond the preliminary route links outside of the study area. Sensitivity data was processed and a northern route option was produced and scored using the same criteria as other route links. This northern route option scored comparingly well to other route links, however, MEA would like additional member feedback on this northern route specifically as it is a newer route option for members to consider.

Have project feedback? Share it with us here.