Transmission line rebuild underway
Chugach has begun a project along the Seward Highway to rebuild a 15-mile section of a key regional transmission line between the Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage.
Chugach built the 90-miles of 115-kilovolt line to link its Cooper Lake hydroelectric project to Anchorage. The line was completed in 1962. Over the past 50 years the line has been subjected to the extremes of weather. It has also become a vital section of the regional transmission grid. The transmission line provides the only electrical path to move hydropower produced on the Kenai Peninsula to utilities and their customers to the north.
While the line was originally built to carry power from Chugach’s then-17.2 megawatt Cooper Lake project, since 1991 it has also carried the output of the state-owned 120-megawatt Bradley Lake hydro project. All six electric utilities in the Railbelt pay for and receive power from the Bradley Lake project, which provides some of the most economical power in the region.
As part of the rebuild, the line is being constructed at 230-kilovolt standards to provide for future growth and operating flexibility, although for the time being it will continue to be energized at 115-kv. During a series of unusual storms last winter many spans of wire in this area were stretched to the ground by a buildup of heavy ice. As a result, the design of the new line provides additional clearance above the ground.
The $15 million project to rebuild the line from Ingram Creek near Turnagain Arm to Silvertip Creek near the Johnson Pass Campground is being funded by a state grant approved by the legislature and governor in 2011. The grant is being administered by the Alaska Energy Authority, with Chugach serving as the project manager.
Clearing and site preparation began in November. The project is scheduled for completion in November 2013. Poles other materials will be stockpiled at several points along the route.
Skiers and snowmachiners are advised to be aware of the project and alert to construction materials and activities when in the area. Stored materials may be difficult to see when covered with snow. Chugach’s project manager can be reached at (907) 762-4510 or (907) 441-4510.
Chugach is the largest electric utility in Alaska, providing power for Alaskans throughout the Railbelt through retail, wholesale and economy energy sales.