Home Energy assets AEA and Railbelt Utilities Pursue Kenai Peninsula’s Largest Hydroelectric Project in 30 Years – Mike Dunleavy

AEA and Railbelt Utilities Pursue Kenai Peninsula’s Largest Hydroelectric Project in 30 Years – Mike Dunleavy

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The Alaska Energy Authority (AEA), in partnership with Railbelt Utilities, filed a license amendment with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as a first step in pursuing the Dixon Diversion. The addition of Dixon Diversion would be the largest hydroelectric development project on the Kenai Peninsula since the development of the Bradley Lake hydroelectric project. The proposed project would be located five miles southwest of Bradley Lake, approximately 27 miles northeast of Homer on the Kenai Peninsula.

AEA owns the Bradley Lake Hydroelectric Project, Alaska’s largest hydroelectric facility. This 120 megawatt facility generates 10% of the total annual electrical energy used by Railbelt’s electric utilities and provides the cheapest electricity in the state to approximately 550,000 Alaskans.

Following the successful completion of the Battle Creek Diversion project in 2020, which increased production from Bradley Lake by approximately 10%, AEA is studying the Dixon Diversion to further optimize the energy potential of Bradley Lakes. Similar to Battle Creek, the Dixon Diversion would divert water from the East Fork of the Martin River to the Lake Bradley Reservoir. The Dixon Diversion project, as expected, could increase power generation at Bradley Lake by almost 50%.

Bradley Lake currently electrifies the equivalent of 54,000 homes. The Dixon Diversion project has the potential to power up to 30,000 additional homes. The development schedule includes five years of studies and authorizations, followed by five years of construction. The project is expected to create significant employment benefits in construction and operation throughout its lifetime. The estimated construction cost of the project is between 400 and 600 million dollars. The source of financing for the construction remains to be determined.

“I foresee the rapid near-term growth of renewables on the Railbelt,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy. “The Dixon Diversion has the potential to be the biggest renewable investment in the rail belt since the construction of the Bradley Lake hydro project 30 years ago. Natural gas prices have only risen as the cost of renewable energy has fallen, and Alaska has to wonder where it will be in 20 years. The Dixon Diversion is a big step towards energy independence.

“We and our Railbelt utility partners also plan to upgrade power transmission and storage capacity to improve reliability and resiliency,” said Curtis W. Thayer, executive director of the AEA. “These improvements will facilitate and increase the benefits of new renewable energy generation on the rail belt, such as the Dixon Diversion.”

“I appreciate the Governor’s vision and leadership on this important subject,” said Tony Izzo, CEO of the Matanuska Electric Association and chair of the Bradley Lake project management committee. “The Bradley Lake Project Management Committee is working to ensure the reliable operation of the largest renewable asset in Alaska. Alaskan leaders and visionaries in the 1950s and 1960s recognized the power-generating potential of this glacier-fed lake. Because of their vision and expertise, ratepayers today benefit from Bradley Lake Hydro’s low-cost electricity. With the Governor’s support, we are working to diversify our energy mix, including clean and renewable energy for future Alaskans.

To learn more about this project, the AEA will host a joint agency and public meeting in June to share additional information. For more information, please contact Bryan Carey, Director of AEA Owned Assets, at [email protected] or by phone at (907) 771-3065.

What: Joint Body and Public Meeting for the Dixon Diversion Project

When: Thursday June 14, 2022, 5-7 p.m.

Or: Aspen Suites Hotel, 91 Sterling Hwy, Homer, AK 99603

Railbelt utilities include the Chugach Electric Association, Golden Valley Electric Association, Homer Electric Association, Matanuska Electric Association, and the City of Seward.

The Alaska Energy Authority is a state-owned corporation. Its mission is to reduce the cost of energy in Alaska.