The Southeast Alaska Power Agency, or SEAPA, says its two hydroelectric reservoirs have rebounded somewhat. With that, the public wholesale power provider has resumed selling excess power from Tyee Lake to Ketchikan. Power from Tyee is mostly dedicated to the northern communities of Petersburg and Wrangell, but when reservoirs are flush, some of that goes south.
“That all had to do with getting some inflows into the reservoirs and seeing them recover to a point that would not impact the dedicated sales to the northern communities,” SEAPA’s CEO Trey Acteson said.
SEAPA is the wholesale power provider for the three Southeast Alaska towns and operates hydro plants near Wrangell and Ketchikan. An ongoing drought in the region dropped reservoir levels and even forced the communities to switch entirely to diesel generation during the past year.
The decision to start shipping Tyee power south again wasn’t made by the board. Rather, the agency’s operations plan dictates reservoir levels that can support that move. That mark was hit in late August, after almost a year of suspended sales.
Acteson says Tyee Lake is currently about 60 feet higher than it was at this time last year. That’s because of the weather, but also the board’s more conservative operations plan which was approved in June. The agency raised the levels at which it would draw water.
“You have to be careful because if you get too conservative then you might impound too much water, and you could spill later in the year,” Acteson said.
As of October 1, the surface of Tyee Lake was at 1325 feet and Swan Lake at 304 feet above sea level. These lakes top off respectively at 1396 feet and 345 feet.
Ketchikan Public Utilities turned off its diesel generators in late August. The city is now relying solely on hydro power from SEAPA and it’s three other hydro projects for the first time in almost a year.
SEAPA’s board will hold a special meeting on October 30th to review it’s CEO. Acteson’s contract expires at the end of the year.