More LNG storage in Fairbanks

Construction is proceeding in Fairbanks on a $52.5 million liquefied natural gas storage tank for the Interior Gas Utility with the project on track for completion in late 2019. Meanwhile, IGU’s board approved a contract for engineering on a second, smaller LNG tank at North Pole, with a preliminary cost estimate of $12 million. Completion of the second tank is also expected in late 2019. The tanks will allow IGU to buy more gas during summer, storing it for winter peak demand. That smooths out annual gas purchasing from Cook Inlet gas producers, hopefully leading to a better price. IGU now operates five to six LNG truck tankers a day up the Parks Highway, dropping to one to two trucks a day in summer. Having storage will allow the winter traffic to be reduced.

IGU’s board, meanwhile, continues to study a proposal from Siemens and Knik Tribal Council to build a modular LNG plant at Houston, north of Wasilla in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, in lieu of building a new plant at the site of its current small LNG facility near Port MacKenzie, also in Mat-Su. There is time on this, however, because it will take time for gas demand in Fairbanks to build, and in the meantime incremental demand growth can be met with the existing plant aided by new storage facilities.

Private solar project in Mat-Su

Private Alaska-based developers are building a large solar panel array near Willow, on the Parks Highway north of Anchorage, to serve local customers. The 100-kilowatt project, being built for $200,000 to $300,000, will switch on in mid-September as a “proof of concept,” to set the stage for an expansion in 2019, the developers said. The company is Renewable IPP, funded by four local investors. The main initial customer is Matanuska Electric Association, the local utility, which will buy solar power at a wholesale price of $0.09 per kilowatt hour. MEA now purchases power from two other small independent power producers, both “run-of-river” small hydro projects near Palmer and Eagle River.

GVEA’s Healy 2 coal plant on line

Golden Valley Electric Association has officially restarted its 50-megawatt Healy 2 coal plant, which uses advanced emission controls. The plant is now operating at near full-capacity, the utility said. Healy 2 was shut down for years over a commercial dispute with the state, which built the plant in 1989.

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