Kodiak’s power portfolio currently holds at 99.3 percent. That’s up from 95.4 percent for full-year 2013. According to numbers like those, 100 percent hydro-electric should be right around the corner. Right?
Think again. Kodiak Electric Association’s Chief Executive Officer Darron Scott maintains that the remaining 0.7 percent would be improbable for Kodiak, a long distance away from the equatorial Canary Islands.
“For April we were 100 percent renewable but for the whole year to be 100 percent we would have to have no maintenance on our transmission lines or our hydro plant. We would have to have good rains, good wind, and have to have no maintenance that causes any kind of outage situations in our system that we need diesel for. I think that would be if not impossible, but not probable to be 100 percent,” Scott told the Mirror.
For instance, a recent upgrade at a transformer required the shutdown of the substation and a switch to diesel power.
Kodiak might not be getting the world’s attention like El Hierro, but KEA’s 99 percent renewables goal does get plenty of recognition — at least statewide. It won the clean energy innovator of the year for 2014 from the Renewable Energy Alaska Project. This was the inaugural year of the prize.
Like El Hierro, however, KEA relies on wind and water power generation to supply nearly all of its electrical power generation. Currently, six wind turbines on Pillar Mountain, a battery energy storage system and three hydro generators on Terror Lake produce nearly all of Kodiak’s power. The battery energy storage system and a third turbine at Terror Lake have created 50 percent more capacity. “All those projects combined have allowed us to push it up to the 99-plus percent rates,” Scott added.
KEA also runs four independent diesel generation facilities — Kodiak Generating Station, Nyman Power Plant, Swampy Acres Plant and Port Lions — which are a mixture of diesel reciprocating engines and a diesel-fired combined cycle generation unit.
Scott sees a flywheel energy storage system that KEA is introducing that will add efficiency to the wind turbines and batteries and become the chief power supply for the Pier 3 upgrade. This upgrade is important because the new cargo crane — much larger than the current diesel-generated crane — will be electrical.
“The new one’s electrical and the flywheels that we’re purchasing will work with that and when the crane’s not in operation we’re going to work our batteries and our wind turbines to make that one more efficient. So one thing that’s great about that is it’s an electrical solution using our renewable power,” said Scott.
As Kodiak maintains its self-sufficiency using water and wind to generate power, energy costs will continue to ease somewhat as well. “If you were a common rate payer in January of 2001 used 600 kilowatt hours, which is about average, and if you use 600 kilowatt hours of power in January of ’14, your bill was 4.5 percent lower than it was 13 years ago,” said Scott.