KEA Seeks to Divert More Water Into Terror Lake


The proposed diversion locations which would redirect water into Terror Lake.  KEA image

Jay Barrett/KMXT

The Kodiak Electric Association is embarking on its next step to ensure renewable energy remains the dominant form of power on the island into the future by directing more water into Terror Lake, which feeds three hydro-power turbines.


While the capacity of the three turbines – 33-megawatts – isn’t changing, the amount of water available to run them could be, according to KEA’s Jennifer Richcreek:

“What we are changing is the amount of energy available to the project, and that energy is in the form of water. There’s only so much water that can fit in that lake, and there’s only so much snowmelt and rain that enters into that lake,” she said. “And so what we’re looking to do is then create a new source of  more water that can come into the lake. An additional portion of the upper alpine area of the watershed that can supply some more water, some more energy, to the hydro plant so that those turbines can keep spinning with more water flowing through them.”

KEA wants to do that by diverting a tributary that drains to Hidden Basin at the head of Ugak Bay. It would actually be the fourth watershed diversion into Terror Lake. The first three were installed when the Terror Lake project was built.

“And these are three diversions that are on the Kizuyak side of the watershed. And so we already are very familiar with operating these kind of diversion,” Richcreek said. “And again, these are just taking portions of the upper areas of the watershed, capturing that snowmelt and that rain and funneling that into a tunnel so that it can flow through the powerhouse and make power.”

The project has an $80-million price tag, but the cost savings of diesel fuel and diesel generator maintenance is projected to exceed $450-million over the course of a 30-year loan to build the new diversions.

Richcreek says with the extra water flowing into Terror Lake, estimated to be about 9.7-billion gallons, the water turbines can go from running at 46-percent of their potential over the course of a year, to 56 percent.

“If those turbines were running full tilt boogie 24-hours-7, 365 days a year, then if that was happening, we’d call that 100 percent plant capacity factor, that would be 296-million kilowatt hours,” she said. “But now, with the3 water currently available to the project, we;’re currently generating 135-million kWh. So if you do 135 divided by 296, that brings it to 46 percent capacity factor. What are we really generating versus to what it’s theoretically possible to generate.”

Richcreek says salmon habitat has been extensively studied in the watershed, and taking some of the Upper Hidden Basin runoff should not be an issues for spawning salmon further downstream.

“That’s the science that we found. We presented that in our reports. We want this to be an engaged consultation with all of the agencies and all the stakeholders, and so if there’s are any concerns, that’s where we’re entering into this scoping meeting and public consultation so that we can all make sure we’re all in agreement that there are no negative impacts.”

Kodiak Electric currently has an application before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to construct the two small dams to divert new water into Terror Lake. There will be a meeting on July 21st with governmental agencies at 9 a.m., and with the public at 7 p.m., though the earlier meeting is open to the public as well. They will both be held in the KANA-Koniag Building on Near Island. 

After that there will be a 90-day public comment period and if all goes well, Richcreek envisions breaking ground in 2019.

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