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Alaska Beat

Adak looks to replace costly diesel with abundant hydropower

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published September 4, 2012

According to Unalaska's KUCB (via Alaska Public Radio), the Aleutian Island community of Adak plans to use its most plentiful natural resource – water – to cut down its skyrocketing power bills.

The town of 150 has struggled to keep the power on, and recently the city turned over authority to run Adak's World War II-era diesel power plant to the Native village corporation TDX. Power continued to flow, but monthly bills could exceed $600, according to KUCB.

So Adak -- which is Alaska's wettest town, with an average of 263 rainy days per year -- is studying a move to hydroelectric power with a goal of bringing electric rates down by 75 percent. Dams are already in place from Adak's days as a naval base. The town would need to set up turbines and make improvements to its electrical grid. A U.S. Department of Commerce analysis is studying how fast the conversion can happen.

Although the feds are paying for most of the study, Adak is chipping in $40,000 -- or 4 percent of the city's annual budget. The aim to have it completed next year.

"You know, cheap reliable power, I think that's every community's dream," says city Layton Locket. "We hope to make it a reality, and sooner rather than later."

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