Petersburg Pilot -

SEAPA approves rebates, Whitman Lake agreement

 


At their regular board meeting last week in Ketchikan, Southeast Alaska Power Agency (SEAPA) approved rebates to member utilities, discussed the progress of the Swan Lake expansion project and approved the Whitman Lake True Up Agreement.

“We did approve a rebate to the member utilities based on last year’s financial performance,” said Joe Nelson, Petersburg Municipal Power and Light (PMPL) superintendent.

SEAPA Secretary and Treasurer Andy Donato said SEAPA saw record revenues last year, with 183 million kilowatt hours produced for its member utilities.

“That’s the highest in our history,” Donato told the board.

Petersburg will receive a rebate in the amount of $212,301.

Despite SEAPA’s good financial performance, this rebate might also be the last issued to member utilities for a few years as SEAPA has some large projects in the works that will require financing.

“The one on the near horizon is the raise of the Swan Lake dam, and so we are not anticipating any rebate over the next two to three years,” Nelson said.

The Swan Lake Reservoir expansion project is SEAPA’s top priority for this year’s legislative funding round according to SEAPA CEO Trey Acteson.

“We have successfully acquired $3.898 million to date and will be seeking an additional $2.76 million (from the state),” Acetson said in his CEO report.

The expansion will raise the top of the dam at Swan Lake by about 14 feet which will increase the capacity of the reservoir by nearly 25 percent.

SEAPA is the wholesale power provider for Ketchikan, Petersburg and Wrangell, and of those member utilities Ketchikan is most in need of additional power at this time.

“It’ll (additional energy) be used initially to reduce Ketchikan’s dependence on diesel fuel,” Nelson said.

The additional energy created from the Swan Lake expansion still won’t be enough to entirely wean Ketchikan off diesel. To that end the Whitman Lake hydroelectric project has been in the works for about a decade, Nelson said, to help service Ketchikan’s power needs.

All member utilities, including Ketchikan, have a long-term power sales agreement (PSA) with SEAPA. The PSA requires SEAPA to sell and member utilities to purchase all available power from the Swan Lake and Tyee Lake projects.With the Whitman power project coming on line, a true-up agreement is needed to “allow SEAPA and its member utilities to cover the cost of any possible displaced sales resulting from Whitman Lake’s operation,” according to meeting documents.

The Whitman True Up Agreement was passed as an ordinance by the City of Ketchikan Aug. 21 and approved by the SEAPA board at its meeting last week.

 

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