GVEA starts renovations on Healy power plant

Golden Valley Electric Association has started renovations and upgrades on a long-dormant coal plant at Healy, with the goal of returning it to operation by next June.

The purchase and restart costs are expected to total $187 million for the plant, built in the 1990s with $300 million in federal and state funds.

Crews have removed obsolete electronics and are taking other steps needed to begin operating the plant for the first time since 1999, a press release from the Fairbanks-based electric cooperative said.

The utility acquired the 50-megawatt plant from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority and reached a deal with federal regulators on new pollution controls, ending years of dispute.

The plant, which is next to a 25-megawatt GVEA coal plant, ran for a brief period using experimental technology, but GVEA and AIDEA battled for years over whether it was economical and safe -- and which entity was responsible.

Under a deal completed last December, GVEA agreed to buy the plant from AIDEA for $44 million and spend more than twice that amount on updated pollution controls. GVEA said operational tests are expected to start next spring and that additional environmental controls are to be installed over the next couple of years.

An emission control system is to be built in a new building next to the power plant. The utility said it expects to save about $21 million a year on fuel costs once the plant is running.

GVEA held a groundbreaking ceremony on the restart project Friday. Black & Veatch Energy is the contractor.


Alaska Dispatch / Anchorage Daily News