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Tests of new UAF power plant draw noise complaints from neighbors

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is testing a new coal-fired 17-megawatt power plant. (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

FAIRBANKS - Weekend tests of a new power plant at the University of Alaska Fairbanks caused noise that generated complaints from neighbors, officials said.

The testing in the heat and power plant was louder and longer than expected, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Tuesday.

The plant ran a boiler at high power to test a turbine, which produced additional steam that required venting, said UAF spokeswoman Marmian Grimes

"The heat and power plant is in testing right now, and as part of that we have to run the boiler at full power, or nearly full power, to make sure that both the boiler and some of the other components in the new plant operate properly," Grimes said.

The university did not anticipate the level of noise or that testing would last several hours, Grimes said.

The university received phone calls from members of the surrounding community, while a May 20 letter to the editor in the Daily News-Miner said the venting disrupted a regional high school track and field championship at nearby West Valley High School, Grimes said.

"We're making contact back to them to let them know what the situation was," Grimes said.

Dates for future tests can be found on the university’s website, she said.

"We're going to try and do a better job of letting the public know when we're going to be doing upcoming tests," Grimes said.

University officials said in April that the plant was expected to be completed within its $248 million budget.

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