the meantime, we continue to put our
shoulder to the wheel and continue the
work we’re doing,” she says.
Increasing Efficiency, Two
Communities at a Time
Two projects by AVEC to connect communities via a low-voltage, twenty-five-kilovolt electrical line are expected to
wrap up this year, Kohler says.
For AVEC, connecting communities
is a big deal. The cooperative has the
largest service territory of any in the
state, connecting fifty-six communities,
mostly in western Alaska, and serves
more than thirty thousand people. But
it provides community-based electrical
service on a small scale; the communities it serves average 420 people and,
unlike its larger power cooperative colleagues, its members are served not by
a few large power plants, but by small,
community-based (and mostly diesel)
AVEC operates forty-nine power
plants and more than 170 diesel gen-
erators. It owns more than five hundred
fuel tanks, with a capacity of 8. 5 mil-
lion gallons of diesel. It also operates
thirty-four wind turbines, serving fif-
All told, the power cooperative sells
about 74 million kilowatt hours of power in fifty-five villages each year; about
1.3 million per village. That’s just over
half the power the Carrs/Safeway store
on Huffman in Anchorage uses in a
year, according to info from AVEC.
“Any time you can connect communities, you’re aggregating the load and
making the generation more efficient,
and there are clearly economies that
can be gained by that,” she says.
The first project, expected to be complete this spring, will connect St. Michael and Stebbins, southeast of Nome.
The second is a long-awaited wrap-up
to a project connecting Emmonak and
Alakanuk, on the lower Yukon River.
The projects are mostly grant-funded
with a combination of money from the US
Department of Agriculture’s High Energy
Cost grant program and from the state’s
Community Development Block Grant
program, which contributed $850,000 to
the Stebbins/St. Michael project.
The interties themselves aren’t that
costly, Kohler says—around $3 million
for each project—but AVEC also beefed
up the power generation facilities in
two of the communities as part of the
project and built new tank farms.
Retiring One Plant, Replacing
The Stebbins/St. Michael Intertie project will connect the two communities
and lay the groundwork for another
project in the future to add wind power.
AVEC Project Manager Forest Button says a new power plant, with a two-megawatt capacity, was placed online in
spring 2014. It replaces a one-megawatt
power plant that had served the community since around 1970.
Two new tank farms—one for AVEC
and the second for the community to use to
provide heating fuel for city hall and other
community-owned buildings—were also
installed in Stebbins last year, Button says.
AVEC’s tank farm holds approximately
410,000 gallons of diesel fuel and the community’s tank farm is designed to hold approximately 275,000 gallons of diesel and
103,000 gallons of gasoline.
This spring, the electric cooperative
was busily working to connect the two