Dry weather lowers water levels in hydro reservoir
The Blind Slough hydroelectric reservoir is three feet below normal heading into the winter months after two dry spells.
“A year ago in October we had the driest October on record which is the normal month we refill,” said Joe Nelson, Power and Light Superintendent. “Because this year was a relatively mild year we were not able to refill the reservoirs.”
Petersburg buys roughly 80 percent of its wholesale power from Southeast Alaska Power Agency and offsets the other 20 percent of its costs with generation from the Blind Slough project.
“We’re able to generate power at the Blind Slough Crystal Lake project for roughly half of what we buy it from SEAPA,” Nelson said.
Nelson said power and light might have to buy additional power from SEAPA if the lake freezes over before it can retain additional water.
“The amount of additional power will not reach the threshold of triggering a rate increase,” Nelson said.
He said power and light’s reserve funds are adequate enough to offset additional power if it needs to buy it from SEAPA.
“But you could have an unusually warm and wet January and it could turn the whole thing around,” Nelson said.
In the meantime, the borough assembly has asked to receive weekly power generation reports.
The last rate adjustment in Petersburg was in 2008 when it decreased by 6 percent. Otherwise they’ve remained flat for more than 20 years.
The Blind Slough project was licensed in 1924 and a major rebuild and expansion took place in the 1950s.