Many communities on Prince of Wales Island are electrically intertied and are supplied power primarily from the Black Bear Lake hydro project (BBL).1 However, over the last 10 years system load growth fully utilized the capacity and energy available from BBL. Supplemental diesel-powered generation was required to meet this increased demand. To minimize dependency on high-cost diesel-generated energy, Alaska Power & Telephone Company began investigating renewable resource energy sources on the island. Research led to the selection of South Fork enhanced by its close proximity to existing roads and power and communication lines servicing BBL, as the most feasible project.
With grant/loan assistance from the Denali Commission and the Alaska Energy Authority, construction of this 2 MW run-of-the-river hydroelectric project began in the spring of 2004 and came on line December 2005. AP&T was the general contractor of the project, securing necessary permits, providing engineering design, and constructing the project with their own work force and seasonal labor.
The South Fork hydroelectric facility has already accumulated over 1,000 hours of operation, supplementing the BBL facility. The power plant controls were incorporated into the BBL SCADA system, enabling plant operators to remotely monitor and control the new facility. While South Fork has limited storage capacity, it will significantly reduce the energy requirement from BBL, enabling BBL to maintain water in storage for low rainfall periods. This will significantly reduce the area’s dependence on diesel-generated energy.
South Fork Impoundment.