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Construction Updates

Chugach tests solar panels

Chugach has established a solar test facility to test the cost effectiveness and generation effectiveness of different solar panel types, and tracking versus non-tracking mounting systems. 

The test site consists of three arrays, one fixed angle and facing due south; one with the same fixed angle but with a single vertical-axis tracker that follows the sun; and one with a dual-axis tracker that can face nearly any direction above the horizon and will track the sun or the brightest spot in the sky. Two different types of panels are being tested. Each array contains one of each panel type. 

The system is being programmed and commissioned in December and data collection is expected to start in January. The data from the system will both help inform Chugach of the optimal system design as well as help inform the public about the merits and challenges of solar in each of these configurations. The Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) is partnering with Chugach to establish the testing protocol and to analyze the data.

Dam inspections at Cooper Lake and Eklutna

The Cooper Lake and Eklutna Power Plants recently underwent routine dam safety inspections. The Cooper Lake Dam inspection is required every five years. The procedure included a thorough inspection by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission along with a required third-party dam inspector and representatives from Chugach Electric. This type of inspection is to ensure that the dam is operating properly and that Chugach is aware of and properly considers the risks associated with dam operations.

The Eklutna Lake Dam also received a Periodic Safety Inspection which was performed by a third-party engineer and is required every three years. The inspection included a review of the condition of all existing dam infrastructure with the objective of ensuring that the dam is being operated properly. Both dams passed inspection.

DeBarr Substation rebuild underway

Chugach Transmission & Substation Engineering is in the process of rebuilding the DeBarr Substation in East Anchorage. The project has received support from both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Northeast Community Council. The substation is 50-years-old, and the equipment is reaching the end of its useful life. The project will retire and replace all of the major equipment, improving efficiency and reliability.

Design of the new substation, meeting current safety codes and standards, is complete. Demolition work began in April, and construction got underway in May. Chugach is purchasing new equipment for the project, including a new transformer and switchgear with new 15 kV and 38 kV breakers. The new transformer arrives in late July, and the switchgear is set to arrive in August.

The DeBarr Substation pre-dated the Municipality of Anchorage and the permitting requirements. A resolution was passed by the Planning and Zoning Commission in mid-July to approve a major amendment to the de-facto Conditional Use permit for the substation. It is anticipated the work will be complete and the substation will be back on line by the end of the year.

High cost of vandalism

Chugach Electric personnel recently spent two days and thousands of dollars repairing a transmission line that was shot by vandals. The damage to the line, between the Portage and Hope substations, was discovered during a routine inspection.

To repair the line, a Chugach operations crew had to first clear snow to provide access to the area that was damaged. Chugach personnel were then able to switch the line out of service, allowing a construction crew to make the necessary repairs. The entire effort took the better part of two days.

Vandalism to electric facilities is both dangerous and expensive. In this incident, a bullet compromised the integrity of the line, and if the line had failed before the damage was discovered, the system could have experienced a major outage. During the time of the repair work, the transmission line connecting Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula was out of service, preventing generation from the Bradley Lake Hydroelectric Project from reaching Anchorage, which adds to the overall cost of repairing the line. 

Vandalism is costly both in dollars and resources. Chugach urges all Alaskans to respect the power system and not use electric wires for target practice.