- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 7, 2016

SITKA, Alaska (AP) - The city of Sitka has been using diesel generators to fulfill resident’s increasing power demands as a hydroelectric plant remains shut down for repairs.

Bryan Bertacchi, electric utility director, said it costs around $4,000 a day to run the diesel machines during morning and evening peak times, The Sitka Sentinel reported (https://bit.ly/2gBtzox).

The Green Lake plant has been offline since October, when inspectors discovered a malfunctioning hydraulic mechanism that opens and closes the water intake gate on the dam. The equipment hadn’t been inspected since 1989 and is the “single most important safety device in the dam,” Bertacchi said.

The city’s Blue Lake hydroelectric plant can only produce 16 megawatts of power, which isn’t enough to meet customer demand amid dropping temperatures.

Bertachhi had warned the Sitka Assembly about the need to use the diesel machines and how much it could cost the city to keep them running.

“Currently, the Blue Lake hydro plant is serving the power needs of our community,” he said in an Oct. 25 memo to the assembly. “However, as it gets colder, diesel generation will be needed if Green Lake is not returned to service. Each week of delay may cost our community approximately $50,000 for supplemental diesel generation. Additionally, in the unlikely event that Blue Lake hydro becomes unavailable, operations on 100 percent diesel could cost the community approximately $500,000 per week.”

The city has since purchased a new hydraulic cylinder for $60,000, which Bertacchi said should arrive within the next two weeks.

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Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel, https://www.sitkasentinel.com/

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