Ketchikan utility continues running diesel generators

October 30, 2018

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — Recent rainfall in Ketchikan has helped fill reservoirs, but it has not been enough for the utility to switch on the area’s largest hydroelectric source, officials said.

Ketchikan Public Utilities has been running diesel generators around the clock since it indefinitely switched off the Swan Lake Hydro Facility earlier this month, the Ketchikan Daily News reported .

The utility began limiting its hydroelectric use in late September after the dry summer yielded low lake levels. The diesel generators were switched on Sept. 24 and ran during weekdays. The utility used hydroelectric power on the weekends.

During the week of Oct. 15, it turned off Swan Lake facility after the power schedule was insufficient in restoring Swan Lake’s water level.

Ketchikan is now burning up to 23,000 gallons (87,000 liters) of diesel fuel each day.

The area has seen rainfall nearly every day for the past two weeks, bringing October’s total to 8.5 inches (21.6 centimeters) as of last week, according to the National Weather Service.

Swan Lake has returned to 286 feet (87 meters) above sea level as of last week, about 9 feet (3 meters) below the utility’s threshold for drawing water.

Electric division manager Andy Donato said he expects the Swan Lake facility to return to operation around the second week of November.

While the wet autumn is easing Ketchikan’s energy issues, Donato said the problems could return during the winter.

“What we’re seeing now, this is great news for late fall,” Donato said. “But we may see a repeat of this as we get in the colder temperatures. As we get into winter, say, January, February, we may have to run back into another diesel campaign.”


Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com

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