NEWHALEN -- George Hornberger is a man on a mission: Get his tiny community totally off of diesel fuel power generation.
Hornberger’s background isn’t in electricity. For years he was a bush pilot for Iliamna Air Taxi, flying people between remote communities in the Bristol Bay region. It’s probably fairer to say his background is in efficiency.
After retiring from flying, he admitted he was frustrated after learning that the electric cooperative wasn’t running effectively. So he went to his longtime friend, INN Electric Cooperative board president Tinny Hedlund, and told him if he couldn’t get anyone to run the hydro plant, he’d do it himself.
Hedlund said to go for it, and now the small village electrical co-op he runs in Southwest Alaska is showing big savings.
Hornberger runs INN -- Iliamna Newhalen Nondalton -- Electric, a tiny village electric cooperative on the north shores of Iliamna Lake. Between the three communities, it serves approximately 600 people, using primarily a hydropower project tucked into the mountains about 12 miles north of the lake’s edge.