Kenai Hydro LLC to explore hydroelectric projects on Kenai Peninsula

Kenai Hydro LLC to explore hydroelectric projects on Kenai Peninsula

Wind Energy Alaska LLC partnered with local electric cooperative Homer Electric Association to form Kenai Hydro LLC. The new entity will explore the feasibility of low-impact hydroelectric projects on the Kenai Peninsula early this summer.

“The Cook Inlet region is running out of known oil and gas reserves,” said Ethan Schutt, senior vice president of land and legal affairs. “Fortunately, it still has abundant energy resources. There is still oil and gas waiting to be discovered. But there are also boundless renewable resources, including wind, hydroelectric, tidal, land-fill methane and geothermal that we can harness to meet Alaska’s energy needs.”

Low-impact hydro generates power by using a waterway’s natural drop in elevation, keeping the environmental impact of a site to a minimum. This contrasts with the traditional hydropower systems, such as dams, that can have adverse effects on river ecosystems.

Kenai Hydro will be studying four potential sites in the Moose Pass area north of Seward: Falls Creek, Grant Lake, Ptarmigan Creek/Lake and Crescent Lake. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requires initial engineering, economic, environmental impact and feasibility assessments before a license application can be submitted. Homer Electric and Kenai Hydro have applied for preliminary permits from FERC to begin this initial evaluation process.

Benefits of hydroelectric energy include reliability, as power is generated 24 hours a day regardless of weather conditions, and price stability, helping to blunt increases in electric rates due to burgeoning fuel costs. Kenai Hydro and Homer Electric estimate the four sites under consideration could generate approximately 5 megawatts of electricity each.

Wind Energy Alaska is a 50-50 joint venture between CIRI and international renewable energy company enXco Inc.