Alaska electric costs to rise while plant is partly offline

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska electric utility customers should prepare for a monthly rate increase as the state’s largest hydroelectric plant remains partially offline due to wildfire damage, officials said.

Aerial video provided by the Alaska Energy Authority shows water falling over the Bradley Lake dam, causing electric power losses, KTUU-TV reported Monday.

“Currently, the dam is spilling water, which is lost power that we can’t generate from,” said energy authority Executive Director Curtis Thayer.

Chugach Electric users between the Kenai Peninsula and Fairbanks should expect a monthly price hike from 3% to 6% as it uses natural gas to supplement lost power. Natural gas is about twice as expensive as hydroelectric power, the utility said.

Chugach Electric customers pay an average of $123 per month, said Chugach Electric spokesperson Julie Hasquet. A 3% increase would add an extra $3.70, while a 6% rise would add another $7.40.

“We have to replace the Bradley Lake hydro with something,” Hasquet said. “Fuel for Chugach Electric is natural gas — it’s not like we can just not fill that part of our energy portfolio.”

The Bradley Lake facility is transmitting some hydroelectric energy to Homer, but areas north have been affected by damage to transmission lines by a wildfire on the Kenai Peninsula. Lines have been out of service for several weeks, officials said.

The fire was started by a lightning strike in June in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and has become the nation’s most expensive wildfire this year, costing about $46 million to fight so far, officials said.


Information from: KTUU-TV,

The Associated Press