Alaska Power wants hydro project to power visiting cruise ships

Alaska Power Co. (APC) applied March 18 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a preliminary permit for the proposed, 25-MW West Creek Water Power Project.

The project would be located on West Creek, a tributary of the Taiya River in southeast Alaska near the City of Skagway. The project site is located approximately 85 miles north of Juneau and five miles northwest of Skagway.

“The primary purpose for the Project is the supply of electricity to cruise ships that dock in Skagway during the summer months,” the application noted. “The cruise ships currently generate all power requirements on-board using petroleum fuels, and the resulting exhaust is causing significant environmental degradation. A secondary purpose is the supply of electricity to the local utility to supplement existing generation. Also, discussions are ongoing regarding the export of power to the Yukon Territory, Canada, which expects large future load growth from mineral developments.”

The project was studied extensively in the early 1980s by the Alaska Power Authority. Those studies focused on a 6-MW project to supply power for local consumption. Alaska Power will utilize that prior work, but this new need for generation to meet cruise ship loads requires a much larger capacity than considered in the earlier studies. Each cruise ship can require as much as 11 MW, and there can be three or four cruise ships in port at a time.

The applicant proposes a conventional powerhouse located near tidewater at the head of Taiya Inlet, with an installed capacity of 25 MW. With that capacity, the applicant anticipates the project could supply the electrical requirements of three cruise ships at a time. The proposed powerhouse location would also place it outside the boundary of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (the powerhouse location studied by the Alaska Power Authority in the early 1980s is in the park).

The powerhouse would consist of a concrete foundation with a metal superstructure, and would contain two vertical-axis Francis-type generating units. The primary transmission line will be a submarine cable approximately 3.9 miles from the powerhouse to a landing on Nahku Bay (a/k/a Long Bay) about 2-3 miles northwest of Skagway. Transmission voltage will be 34.5 kV to correspond to the voltage of the existing area transmission system. A new substation will be constructed at the cable landing near Nahku Bay. The existing transmission line along Nahku Bay will be upgraded as necessary.

A three-year preliminary permit would allow the company three years of exclusivity to look at project feasibility, with a license application then needed if the decision is to proceed.

The company contact information is: Glen Martin, Mgr. Permitting, Licensing, Compliance, Alaska Power & Telephone Co., P.O. Box 3222, Port Townsend, WA 98368, (360) 385-1733 x 122.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.