Alaska a leader in micro-hydro
September 07, 2012
Alaska is a leader in micro-hydro energy generation. One only has to look at the upper Lynn Canal, where Haines and Skagway receive almost all their electrical energy from micro-hydro sources.
Alaska as a state has the second highest per capita energy use in the nation at 946 Mmbtu per person. The State of Alaska has a goal of deriving half its power from renewable energy sources by 2025. Today about 17% of the State’s electricity is generated by hydro power.
A micro-hydro facility is usually considered to one that produces less than 10 MW of electricity. One area where micro-hydro is very important is the upper Lynn Canal. Haines and Skagway have diesel plants with installed capacity of 9.8 MW of diesel‐generated power, but they usually receive their power from 4 nearby micro-hydro plants power plants (over 8.3 MW of hydroelectric power):
- The 900 kW Dewey Lakes hydroelectric run‐of‐river project has operated near Skagway since 1909.
- In 1997, the Goat Lake hydroelectric project began operations. This 4.0 MW facility is located seven miles north of Skagway, and consists of a 204‐acre glacier fed lake that has winter storage enough to provide hydroelectric power nearly year around. The facility was connected to the Haines power grid by a 15‐mile undersea cable installed in 1998.
- In 2009, the Kasidaya Creek run-of‐river hydroelectric project near Skagway began operating. That facility has a generation capacity of 3.0 MW, and is not operational during some winter months. The Lutak Hydro run-of‐river system near Haines has an installed capacity of 250 kW.
- In addition to these AP&T facilities, the privately owned 10‐Mile Creek run‐of‐river hydroelectric facility north of Haines has a capacity to generate 600 kW. Currently that facility sells its power to IPEC for use in Klukwan and the Chilkat Valley. IPEC is in the process of acquiring the 10‐Mile Creek facility.
The steep mountains near Haines and Skagway are ideal for micro-hydro. The Municipality of Skagway is investigating the development of a hydroelectric dam project at West Creek. That facility has the capacity to produce 25 to 50 MW of power in the future. The intent of this project is to complete transmission lines to connect it to the Yukon Energy electric grid and sell power to Canada.