Kodiak Daily Mirror - Kodiak Electric Association tries to find fix for leaking dam pipe
Kodiak Electric Association tries to find fix for leaking dam pipe
by James Brooks / editor@kodiakdailymirror.com
Dec 16, 2011 | 122 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KODIAK — Its future is in the wind, but the Kodiak Electric Association’s present is concerned with a problem underground.

At a meeting Thursday, company president Darron Scott updated the electric cooperative’s board of directors on a leak that developed in a pipe deep within the Terror Lake Dam.

Scott said the pipe runs through the base of the dam, 160 to 170 feet below the dam’s water level, and supplies water to keep Terror River flowing for fish.

The pipe is contained within a concrete tunnel, but KEA workers can’t get down the tunnel because the spraying water from the leak makes it unsafe to get close, Scott said.

“If you could walk up the tunnel today, you could (fix it),” he said. “We can’t do that because of this is spraying.”

A valve could close the flow and turn off the spraying, but there’s a problem — the valve is at the reservoir end of the pipe.

Scott said engineers have proposed a variety of solutions, but all have been either risky or expensive enough to make KEA cautious.

The leak isn’t the same as one repaired this summer in a different tunnel. This one was discovered after Thanksgiving, and Scott said he’s working with experts in under-ice diving and underwater robots in hopes that one will be able to turn the valve from the lake end.

Scott said he doesn’t know what caused the leak — KEA hasn’t been able to get close enough to investigate — but he suspects it will be repaired quickly once crews can reach it.

Scott said the cooperative has contacted its insurance company to cover the cost of repairs.

Discussion of the leak followed the KEA board’s final approval of a $9.5 million contract with MasTec of North Dakota and Florida for the construction of the three remaining wind turbines in the Pillar Mountain project.

The Pillar Mountain project, which includes three existing turbines, the three new turbines and an energy storage system, will fulfill KEA’s objective to have 95 percent of its electricity generated by renewable sources before 2020. The turbines in combination with the Terror Lake hydroelectric project will generate 97 percent of the cooperative’s power.

“(MasTech is) going to be in charge of taking the turbines from a port in northwest Washington, get all the road work done, then they’ll get the erection completed to the point that they turn over to (General Electric) to commission the turbines,” Scott said.

Under the contract, MasTec would begin work on the turbine foundations after July 1, with construction complete before Sept. 15. If MasTec takes longer than that, it would be penalized $1,100 per day, with allowances for bad weather during the construction period.

The next meeting of the Kodiak Electric Association board of directors is noon, Jan. 26.

Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.
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