Railbelt utilities make progress to pool resources
Post date: Wed, 09/06/2017
Leaders of Alaska’s largest electric utilities hope to have a green light from state regulators to form new infrastructure management companies in a little more than a year.
A collection of officials from the six Railbelt region utilities told the Regulatory Commission of Alaska at a late August meeting that they are collectively working toward internally approving the joint formation of a transmission company, or transco, by the end of the year. That would allow the utilities to submit the plan to the RCA early in 2018 and possibly have it approved by the end of next year.
Proponents of the new jointly owned company believe pooling transmission lines and the resources is the best way to spread the costs of large infrastructure projects and assure the benefits from them reach as many of the region’s residents as possible. More
Sale of Mental Health Trust land final for hydropower heating facility
August 25, 2017 By ALEX McCARTHY Juneau Empire
Bradley hydro expansion moves forward with AEA approval
Post date: Thu, 08/10/2017
The Alaska Energy Authority board of directors unanimously approved a $46.4 million expansion of the Bradley Lake hydroelectric plant at its Aug. 10 meeting in Anchorage.
The board’s vote allows the AEA to move forward to pursue financing and developing the Battle Creek diversion project at the headwaters of Kachemak Bay, a move that will boost production by about 10 percent and add 37,300 megawatt hours per year to its current output. That’s equal to powering an additional 5,200 homes.
The project has received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and is “shovel ready,” AEA Executive Director Michael Lamb told the board.more....
Project underway to replace Koliganek power plant
Aug 25, 2017
The village of Koliganek is aiming to have a new power plant up and running by next fall.
The village of Koliganek is getting a new power plant. The funds are in place. Now they need a finished design and materials before construction can begin.
The new power plant will have three diesel generators and more efficient waste heat recovery lines. Those will provide heat for the health clinic and the school, displacing about 14,700 gallons of heating fuel annually.
Another upside is the new power plant will be much quieter. The constant hum of the current plant is audible from nearby buildings, including the health clinic across the road.more...
Bradley Lake hydro expansion moves forward
An expansion of the state’s largest hydroelectric facility is one step closer to becoming a reality.
The Alaska Energy Authority’s Board of Directors approved a $46.6 million expansion of Bradley Lake at its meeting earlier this month.
The Battle Creek project, as it’s known, will divert runoff from the Battle Glacier via a 1.7-mile pipeline, just upstream of the Bradley Lake dam.
The state-owned facility serves about 70 percent of Alaska’s population through six electric utilities along the rail belt.
Each utility plays a role in operating Bradley Lake, and the nearly 370-megawatt it produces each year are divvied up between Golden Valley Electric, Chugach Electric, City of Seward, Matanuska Electric Association, Homer Electric Association and Municipal Light & Power. more....
Sen. Murkowski welcomes proposed method for calculating land use fees for Alaska hydropower plants
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) applauded a recent proposal by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to change the way that annual land use charges are calculated for hydropower projects on federal lands.
FERC’s proposed method would use a regional per-acre land value to a statewide average per-acre land
value, which would reduce recent fee increases. FERC is currently seeking comment on its proposal.
“FERC’s proposal is a step in the right direction for Alaskans served by utilities that generate clean hydroelectric power from facilities on federal lands,” Murkowski said. “This new methodology recognizes the uniqueness of land valuation in Alaska, and will help ensure reasonable rates while removing a growing impediment to development in our state.”
In 2016, land use fees for hydroelectric projects on the Kenai Peninsula increased by 71 percent, according to Murkowski. Since 2008, fees for the region have increased by 384 percent. Land use charges for the Solomon Gulch project near Valdez have increased 679 percent since 2008. more.....
Final Railbelt electric plan cost estimate nears $900M
Post date: Wed, 06/07/2017
The Alaska Energy Authority is sticking with its belief that one of the state’s most critical pieces of infrastructure needs close to $900 million of improvements to truly be both reliable and efficient.
AEA’s final Railbelt Transmission Plan completed this spring concludes there are $885 million worth of projects to improve the economics and reliability of the electric grid from the southern Kenai Peninsula to Fairbanks.
Another $54 million of work to add substations and transmission lines primarily around Anchorage would improve system reliability but not significantly improve the economics of the Railbelt electric grid, according to AEA.
The Railbelt Transmission Plan was compiled for AEA by the Anchorage-based consulting firm Electric Power Systems Inc.
A draft version of the study released in early 2014 estimated the need to be $903 million, but that included some smaller projects to integrate the now-suspended Susitna-Watana hydropower project into the region’s transmission system, AEA Chief Operating Officer Kirk Warren said during the authority’s May board meeting.
Warren said about $400 million of the total estimate is for projects aimed at improving the flow of power from the 120-megawatt, AEA-owned Bradley Lake hydropower plant near Homer to the demand centers of Anchorage, the Mat-Su and Fairbanks.more....
New Alaska handbook provides how-to on heated greenhouses
by: RACHEL D\'ORO, Associated Press Updated:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Cold-climate greenhouses have long been an option for increasing the limited growing season in Alaska, where fresh produce is a rarity in a harsh environment. But for many remote communities that rely on costly imported diesel fuel for their power source, they're too expensive to operate.
Now, the state has released a handbook that shows schools and community groups how to build greenhouses heated with a plentiful local resource: wood.
The 98-page guide comes as greenhouses gain popularity in the vast state for several reasons, including improved technology and heightened awareness, according to officials who worked on the handbook.
Thousands of schools in the continental U.S. have gardens and some have greenhouses where students learn to grow food. But Alaska's situation is unique given the lack of fresh produce from local sources in remote parts of the state.
"There's nobody that comes close," says Bob Deering, renewable energy coordinator for the Alaska region of the U.S. Forest Service, the handbook's main funding source.more....