Utililites pitch expansion at Bradley Lake hydroplant

  • Open since 1991, the Bradley Lake hydropower plant 30 miles east of Homer supplies the cheapest energy on the Railbelt at about 4 cents per kilowatt hour. Utilities are in favor of an expansion, but the board of directors for the Alaska Energy Authority are a bit skeptical. (Photo/Alaska Energy Authority)
  • A diversion dam like this one 16 feet high by 60 feet wide on Battle Creek could send enough water to help add enough power to the current Bradley Lake hydro plant for 5,200 homes according to Alaska Energy Authority management. (Photo/Alaska Energy Authority)

Railbelt utility leaders want the Alaska Energy Authority to approve a $46.4 million expansion of the Bradley Lake hydroelectric plant.

AEA management is on board with the proposal, but during the June 29 AEA board meeting, members questioned both as to why they should approve the project when transmission line constraints already prevent what is the lowest cost power source in the region from being used to its full potential.

The Battle Creek diversion project would add about 37,300 megawatt hours per year to Bradley Lake’s current power production, which is nearly 10 percent of its average annual output. That would supply enough additional hydropower to meet the needs of about 5,200 households in the region, according to AEA Owned Assets Manager Bryan Carey.

Specifically, the Battle Creek project consists of constructing a 16-foot high, 60-foot wide concrete dam to divert water into a five-foot diameter, high-density polyethylene pipe. The pipe — using natural elevation changes — would carry the water 1.7 miles to the Bradley Lake facilities.

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