King Cove’s Waterfall Creek Hydroelectric Facility Goes Online
June 15, 2017
King Cove, AK — The City of King Cove is pleased to announce that its new Waterfall Creek hydroelectric facility went online earlier this month. The new hydro has been performing exceptionally well and producing up to 400KW.
Waterfall Creek is the community’s second run-of-the-river facility. King Cove’s first hydro facility, Delta Creek, came online in 1994 and is about twice the size of Waterfall Creek. Together, these two renewable energy sources are expected to produce about 75% of the city’s annual power demand of 4.5 megawatts.
These two hydroelectric facilities provide King Cove with the distinction of being the most prolific, single-site renewable energy community in rural Alaska.
“The community is very excited about Waterfall Creek being completed and does not expect to hear the sound of our diesel support system until winter,” said King Cove Mayor Henry Mack.
The final project cost is expected to be about $6.7 million. The project has been funded with $3.3 million (50%) in grants from the Alaska Energy Authority and the Aleutians East Borough; $3 million (45%) in long-term debt from the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank and AEA’s Power Project Fund; and $400,000 (5%) in contributions from the city.
The project required twelve years from the initial concept, design, permitting, funding and construction.
“The city’s perseverance in completing the project has largely been driven by 22 years of success with Delta Creek,” said Mayor Mack. “This hydro has displaced more than three million gallons during this time, with more than 50% of the community’s total power production coming from this renewable energy source.”
King Cove’s current cost of a kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity is $0.30. This cost is one of the least expensive throughout rural Alaska where the average cost is $0.45/kWh. The average cost of electricity in the lower 48 is $0.12/kWh. With Waterfall Creek online, the city is confident that it can maintain or possibly even lower its kWh rate.
There is some irony with the timing of Waterfall Creek coming online and King Cove being simultaneously informed by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska that the community is no longer eligible for a power cost equalization (PCE) subsidy. About 186 communities throughout rural Alaska receive the PCE subsidy, including more than 35 communities that have some amount of renewable power generation.
The community is planning a formal dedication of the Waterfall Creek hydro facility later this summer. The city will also be issuing a detailed report later this summer documenting the project’s unique history, challenges and what the city can expect its renewable energy future to look like.
King Cove is a community of 925 residents, located 625 air miles southwest of Anchorage at the western end of the Alaska Peninsula. The community was settled in 1911. King Cove incorporated as a city in 1949 when Alaska was still a territory and became a first-class city in 1974. The city adopted a mayor-council form of local government. The city has employed a city administrator since 1976.
The city has an annual budget of $5 million. The city’s Electric Department comprises about 20% of the total budget. The city has 25 full-time employees dispersed throughout the departments of Administration, Public Safety, Public Works, Harbor/Port, Electric and Recreation/Teen Center.
King Cove is one of the largest Aleut communities in Alaska. It is a progressive waterfront community with two harbors supporting a year-round fisheries economy. One of the state’s largest fish processing operations, Peter Pan Seafoods, is located in King Cove.