KANA recently partnered with ANTHC’s Rural Energy Initiative and Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) to install a weather station in Akhiok that will support the community in collecting renewable resource data.
“As long as it doesn’t blow away, the weather station will collect at least one year’s worth of wind, solar and temperature data,” says Bailey Gamble, Mechanical Engineer with ANTHC’s Rural Energy Initiative.
The station, installed in November 2018, will provide data that will be used in planning the incorporation of renewable energy as the community develops its major power plant and distribution system upgrades.
The lead-up to the weather station project includes two tandem projects in Akhiok: a new powerhouse and a new electric distribution system. The new powerhouse is a cost-share project between the Denali Commission and the State of Alaska. The new distribution system is funded through the USDA Rural Utility Service.
The City of Akhiok submitted the powerhouse replacement project to the Denali Commission several years ago, eventually making it to the top of the funding list in 2018. With grant writing and technical assistance support from KANA, the City of Akhiok was awarded grant funds from the USDA Rural Utility Service High Energy Cost Grant to replace the electric distribution infrastructure. Goals of these projects are to reduce fuel consumption, power outage, and line losses.
While the funders view these as separate and distinct projects, KANA has ensured that the powerhouse replacement project and electric distribution project are coordinated together, allowing both components of the new Akhiok Electric Utility to be built in conjunction with one another.
“The current powerhouse and grid in Akhiok is aging,” says Tyler Kornelis, KANA Economic Development Project Manager. “Outages, shorts, and line loss have become significant problems. Integrating renewable energy into an aging and unreliable generation and distribution system is a recipe for problems. With a new powerhouse and electric grid being designed now and installed in 2020,” Kornelis explains, “we have perfect timing to explore renewable energy integration.”
Kornelis is working with the Alaska Energy Authority to help make sure both the weather station and powerhouse projects move forward along the same time line.