November 29, 2012 | Volume 42, No.48

Diesels meet 'peaking' demand

Peaking demand prompted Alaska Power and Telephone to augment hydro-electric power with diesel generation on nine of the past 12 days, AP&T power manager Danny Gonce said Wednesday.

In previous years, a diesel plant in Skagway has been used to bridge the gap between supply and demand, but the one in downtown Haines is being used – generating more power than the one in Skagway – because water levels at Goat Lake are down, due to drier than average weather in late fall, Gonce said.

Located north of Skagway, Goat Lake is the largest source of hydro power serving the two towns. “The lake’s not low, but it’s not full,” he said. “We’re not concerned, but we’re watching it.”

The situation is the same at other hydro sources through Southeast, he said. October rains typically top off Goat Lake, he said. “The lake filled earlier (in the summer) than it ever did before, but we didn’t get the late fall rains we usually do.”

Diesel generation has been used only for about three hours a day recently and accounts for less than 1 percent of generation during the past 30 days, so it should have only a “miniscule” effect on electric bills at this point, Gonce said.

Kasadaya Creek, a seasonal hydro source for the AP&T, was shut down Nov. 15, coinciding with the same day of fall closure in 2011, he said.