KEA eyes new wind, water turbines

Two of the three Pillar Mountain wind turbines on an overcast Wednesday afternoon. The wind turbines have been up for two years this month. (Derek Clarkston photo)

Kodiak is well on its way to having more than 95 percent of electrical power generation from renewable sources within just a few years.

Among the many boons to the Kodiak community from the recent passage of the state capital budget were two allocations of about $3.75 million each to the Kodiak Electric Association to upgrade the hydroelectric plant at Terror Lake.

KEA chief executive Darron Scott said the funding will go toward building a third turbine at Terror Lake, which was envisioned in the construction of the facility. The state funding represents about 50 percent of the amount needed for the project.

That funding takes a lot of pressure off KEA to finance the project, Scott said.

Having three hydroelectric turbines would increase the capacity of the Terror Lake plant from 22.5 to 33.75 megawatts, giving the local electric cooperative the ability to cover even peak needs for power generation, such as when canneries are running, with hydro power alone.

It would also give KEA the ability to take one turbine down at a time for maintenance and not greatly affect the ability for hydroelectric power generation, Scott said.

While the addition to Terror Lake would be able to handle all of the power generation needs for the system now, Scott said the hydro plant is limited by the amount of water in the lake, and the cooperative is also planning for future electricity use.

On the current schedule, the third turbine at Terror Lake would be completed in the summer of 2013, Scott said.

The addition of the third turbine also helps the utility increase renewable generation from wind. Scott said the third turbine allows a better balancing between Terror Lake, the backbone of energy generation, and wind power, which can come and go.

“The agility of three units, as we move toward more wind, the synergies become better,” Scott said.

In May, the KEA board approved beginning negotiation with Tetra Tech, the contractor who installed the first three wind turbines, for the construction of second phase of the Pillar Mountain project, which has been permitted for three more wind turbines.

The wind turbines, which have changed the horizon of Kodiak, have been up for two years this month.

Scott said KEA is working to get the engineering done on the wind project, which could also be complete by 2013.

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