Story last updated at 3:52 p.m. Thursday, May 23, 2002

Legislature OKs funds for Seldovia power station

Happenings in Seldovia

As part of the state's capital project budget approved by the Alaska Legislature last Sunday, Homer Electric Association expects to receive $2.1 million to upgrade and overhaul the electricity generating facility in Seldovia.

The long-planned project will replace the existing Seldovia facility with a new building to house four new 500 kilowatt diesel generators, indoor fuel tanks, switching gear and a transformer which will links the generator to HEA's regular system.

The Seldovia generators are used as backup power in the event of power failures in the main electrical system that brings power from the Homer side of Kachemak Bay.

The existing generators were built in the 1950s, according to HEA spokesman Joe Gallagher. "It's time to replace them," he said.

The system proved its value again during extensive power outages last December when winds brought down thousands of dead spruce trees on power lines, and the Seldovia backup system helped keep power the village and neighboring communities.

The new state funding will also be used to install a new stand-alone generator to serve Port Graham and the nearby village of Nanwalek. Currently the villagers are connected to the Homer Electric system by an 8.5-mile long line from Seldovia. The line crosses the most rugged and inaccessible portion of HEA's distribution system andis subject to storm-related damage and lengthy repair times due to its remoteness.

The projects are part of the Kachemak Bay Regional Power Project. In the first phase of the project, HEA completed installation of a new 3.8 mile submarine power cable from the Homer Spit to McKeon Flats near Seldovia last November.

Funding for the cable came from a $2 million federal appropriation sponsored by Sen. Ted Stevens under the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2002.

The cable is designed to improve the reliability of electricity provided to south Kachemak Bay communities.

Commenting on the new Seldovia and Port Graham generators in a prepared statement, HEA general manager Norm Story said the project would have been too costly for the member-owned utility association without the state funds.

Story credited the support of state Rep. Ken Lancaster, R-Soldotna, for guiding the funding request through the stormy legislative process this year.

Engineering specifications will now be prepared for the projects, Gallagher said. While no date has been set for construction, HEA hopes to have the facilities online within a year.