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February 18, 2019   |   Smart Energy International


Alaskan utility runs out of power and customers will bear the brunt

Freezing temperatures and low water levels in lakes, the source of hydropower for Ketchikan Public Utilities’ electric division, have maxed out power production.

A 30MW demand is putting stress on the system during peak hours. The utility is also juggling repairs, sending power to northern communities and dealing with Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation permit limitations, said electric division manager Andy Donato.

KPU is encouraging local businesses that have alternative fuel options to change over. The utility might shave another MW off demand if they do, he said.

Hydropower facilities around Ketchikan are producing about 12MW. Diesel generators power the other 18MW.

KPU is not using hydropower generation at Whitman Lake because of its low water level.

Meanwhile, a generator is in need of repair and the utility has turned to rentals.

A state air quality permit bans the grouping of too many generators for too long. KPU workers recently unhooked rental diesels from the Bailey Powerhouse and transported them offsite.

With cold weather forecast to continue another week, challenges remain. The air permit has hour limitations on the generators based on their particulate emissions, Donato said.

“This has really become a challenge on how we balance various generators, to optimise the time remaining and utilise the larger ones for peak,” he said.


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