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Eklutna Hydro owners respond to Anchorage Assembly resolution regarding 1991 Fish & Wildlife Agreement

The owners of the Eklutna Hydroelectric Project, Chugach Electric Association , Matanuska Electric Association, and the Municipality of Anchorage, recently responded to the Anchorage Assembly regarding the 1991 Fish & Wildlife Agreement. The Assembly passed a resolution seeking a two-year extension of the Agreement along with other requests and assertions. The owners responded with a letter to the Assembly which was discussed at the Feb. 12, 2024, meeting of the Chugach Board of Directors. Attached below are the Assembly resolution, the owners’ response, and the slides presented at the board meeting.

Campbell Lake Substation rebuild

Chugach is rebuilding the Campbell Lake Substation in South Anchorage. The purpose of this project is to replace the aging infrastructure as the equipment is 50 years old and is no longer adequate to serve the area. Chugach is replacing the transformer and the switchgear in the substation to ensure reliability to the area and to address safety concerns that come with having equipment at the end of its serviceable life.

As part of this effort, we are also replacing the existing communications tower. The tower is a critical piece of Chugach’s microwave network which is essential to the operation of the entire Chugach system. In order to process the amount of data that comes from our meters; to reliably and safely operate the control and protection circuits; and to operate state-of-the-art security systems, line of site, well above the tree line, is necessary. This ensures the Chugach communication system is reliable and independent. Due to some questions from local residents, Chugach is looking at alternative tower styles including what’s called a “stealth” tower where it could be partially obscured by foliage the way cell phone towers are often built.

The project team has been to the Bayshore/Klatt Community Council four times (Nov. 2022; March 2023; April 2023; May 2023) and is requesting another opportunity to present the latest on the project at the January 2024 community council meeting.

In September 2023, the Municipality of Anchorage’s Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved our Conditional Use Permit for this project. That permit is being appealed by a small group of residents. Chugach will work with all the parties on that appeal process.

Chugach battery storage project will improve reliability and efficiency

Chugach is investing in a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) that will primarily serve as a reliability and efficiency project, focused on improving the primary frequency response on the Railbelt Transmission System. Battery storage technology enables utilities to store energy for later use and allows for more efficient natural gas generation.

The battery will enable Chugach to generate the same amount of power consuming less natural gas. Battery storage is also one of several technology options that allow flexibility in the power system and make it possible to integrate high levels of renewable energy, such as wind and solar. 

The BESS, a Tesla Megapack system, is rated at 40 Megawatts for two hours. It will be located just south of the Chugach headquarters building on Electron Drive. Matanuska Electric Association, Inc. will have a 25% interest in the BESS project. The project is expected to be on line in October 2024.

Cooper Landing reliability project wrapping up

Contracted crews have completed all major work on the Cooper Landing reliability project. The project, overseen by Chugach’s engineering department and completed by contractor Alaska Line Builders, covers nearly 2.9 miles of line from the Daves Creek Substation to Kenai Lake. The project increases capacity and reliability by adding poles and replacing conductors/cross arms. The first portion of the project had difficult terrain with challenging access. Additionally, extreme snow and temperatures pushed the project completion back around a month. All project construction was done with the line energized, minimizing disruptions to members.