Chugach crews had a challenging job in early May, changing out a power pole that was severely damaged from a rockslide triggered by the Nov. 30, 2018 earthquake. The pole is located at Mile 106 of the Seward Highway and serves the community of Rainbow. After planning, coordinating, and securing permits with the Department of Transportation, crews had to hike into the pole site on the side of the mountain. The broken pole had to first be dug out using a small excavator before the new pole could be installed. Chugach worked with Alpha Aviation who provided helicopter support to fly out the damaged pole, and fly in both the excavator and the new pole. The whole job was completed safely and without incident.
Earthquake damaged pole replaced
Transmission line rebuild will improve reliability
A project rebuilding nine miles of the existing 115-kilovolt transmission line between the Hope Substation and the Summit Lake Substation is underway. The project got underway in January and is expected to be complete by April 1. It includes upgrading the line between Mile 46 and Mile 55 of the Seward Highway from 115 kV to 230 kV.
The existing line has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced. The upgrade will improve reliability and increase the future power transfer capacity from the Kenai Peninsula to Anchorage.
Backcountry users and highway travelers are advised to keep an eye out for construction equipment operating in the right-of-way, disruption of trail surfaces, and increased truck traffic on the Seward Highway.
Security upgrades at substations
As part of our plan to enhance critical infrastructure security, Chugach is finishing the installation of our third intrusion detection system. The current work at Teeland Substation follows similar efforts at Retherford and University Substations.
While security fences and video surveillance are largely passive systems, fence-based intrusion systems provide the ability to immediately detect unauthorized entry into substations. Once an intruder is detected, we are in a much better position to respond to potential theft, vandalism, accidents and other activities that could disrupt the stability of our electrical system.
Taking measures to protect our systems follows similar measures in the Lower 48 driven by North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection directives to boost both cyber and physical security. Chugach is part of the Alaska Cyber Security working group charged with developing security standards for Railbelt utilities. As these standards are finalized in the upcoming year, Chugach will be ready to undertake the next steps towards increasing the reliability of its systems.
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.