- Associated Press - Sunday, May 10, 2015

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - A small Air Force station could be on Railbelt power by the end of October.

Golden Valley Electric Association is moving forward with a 2.4-mile high-voltage transmission line to Clear Air Station, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (https://bit.ly/1QyYIFF) reported, in response to an Air Force request for saving money.

Clear Air Station is 78 miles southwest of Fairbanks near Anderson. The station operates radar antennas that track satellites and provide early warning of an intercontinental missile attack.

The station was built in 1961 and since then has generated its own heat and power by coal. However, efficiencies in radar lowered the station’s need for power.

The Clear power plant features three 7.5-megawatt turbines and each can generate more electricity than the station needs. To ensure there’s always power, the station keeps a second turbine idling at all times and that power is wasted.

The Air Force estimates that shifting to GVEA electricity and mothballing its power plant would save $1.6 million annually.

The Air Force will pay an estimated $6.1 million for a new substation and transmission line that will link GVEA power to the station.

GVEA’s goal for completing the line is Oct. 31. A $15 million diesel oil-fired steam plant for heating the station is expected to be completed at about the same time. The plant is under construction by ASRC Builders.

Power requirements could change at the station. Clear is under consideration for new radar capabilities as part of the National Missile Defense system. A spokesman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said a final decision is expected soon.

“There are a lot of questions that will be answered by the Pentagon’s final determination on the long-range discrimination radar project and construction - and a lot of calculations that will be updated, like that of the Clear power plant - and we anticipate clarity in the next few months,” said Matthew Felling by email.


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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