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Officials spill water from the dam at the Swan Lake Hydroelectric Facility on July 24, 2020

After a summer of record-setting rainfall, the Swan Lake Hydroelectric Facility reached full capacity following expansion totaling an additional 15 feet of storage for the first time. Due to drought conditions since construction was finished three years ago, this summer marked the first time water levels made it all the way up on the flashboards, forcing a reservoir spill on July 24.

“This expansion allows for increased storage of one of our area’s most important renewable energy sources: hydropower,” said Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka. “This expansion ensures that we can store more hydropower and use it during the fluctuating rainy seasons. This is just a part of a larger ongoing expansion, and we are currently reviewing other hydropotentials to increase storage generation in the future.”

The Swan Lake Reservoir Expansion Project achieved its objective of increasing regional hydro storage capacity, which was identified as a priority in the Southeast Alaska Integrated Resource Plan. The expansion was a 22MW hydroelectric facility on Revillagigedo Island that expanded the capacity from 86,000 acre-feet to 111,800 acre-feet, allowing for about 25-30% more storage.

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Officials spill water from the dam at the Swan Lake Hydroelectric Facility on July 24, 2020

Annually the expansion will provide up to 12,000 MWh of additional energy, which equates to 800,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually, according to the Southeast Alaska Power Agency (SEAPA). In the first year of the project an additional $1.1 million in diesel generation to Ketchikan was offset. In addition to the cost savings of displacing 800,000 gallons of diesel is the elimination of 17,904,000 pounds of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere.

“This is a great example of maximizing the value of an existing hydroelectric asset without the need for additional transmission or powerhouse infrastructure,” said SEAPA CEO Trey Acteson.

The project was completed on an accelerated schedule and came in under the engineer’s estimate of $13.3. million. It was partially funded through a $3.9 million direct appropriation from the State of Alaska and SEAPA sold bonds for the remaining balance. Alaska’s congressional delegation supported the project, as well, which subsequently led to the passage of related Swan Lake Boundary Adjustment Act. Numerous state agencies and the U.S. Forest Service also worked collaboratively to bring the project to fruition.

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Officials spill water from the dam at the Swan Lake Hydroelectric Facility on July 24, 2020

“SEAPA is grateful for Senator Stedman’s support in securing partial state funding for this important project benefitting the communities of Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg,” Acteson said.

The intertie between Swan Lake Hydro Facility to the Tyee Lake Hydroelectric Facility is another major benefit of this project. It allows for greater utilization of the energy generation capability of the Tyee Facility and better reliability throughout the system, as well. The Swan Lake facility is used to power Ketchikan and the Tyee Lake system sends power to Wrangell and Petersburg. Since completing the intertie, the 15-feet expansion is the first major upgrade to benefit this power station.

“Hydroelectricity and this expansion to the system increases the stability and reliability of the electrical system throughout the district,” said Stedman. “This expansion is a perfect example of how we are working to sustainably develop our great state and bring cheaper, more reliable electricity to our residents.”

SEAPA is a regional generation and transmission entity providing wholesale power to member utilities. SEAPA is authorized under Alaska state law to design, develop, acquire, purchase, own, operate, manage, maintain and improve power projects or generation and transmission facilities.

Stedman and Acteson would like to extend thanks to these other participants who were instrumental in the successful completion of this project:

  • Eric Wolfe, SEAPA Director of Special Projects
  • Ed Schofield, SEAPA Power Systems Specialist
  • McMillen LLC
  • Randy Presleigh, Structural Engineer of McMillen LLC
  • Finlay Anderson, Sr. Licensing & Regulatory Specialist of McMillen LLC
  • Pacific Pile & Marine, General Contractor
  • Kuenz America, Inc., fixed wheel gate & flashboard
  • Hot Wire, LLC, electrical contractor (sub)
  • Bering Industrial Contractors, Inc. (sub)
  • Evergreen Concrete Cutting, Inc. (sub)
  • Local Ketchikan Shipyard
  • Steve Scheldt of PML Environmental
  • James Volk of Segrity, LLC (controls configuration/programming)
  • Pool Engineering, site support
  • Steve Seley of Seaborne Marine, marine transport
  • Kent Halvorsen of Boyer Tug, marine transport
  • Steve Negri, Tetra Tech, Sr. Wildlife Biologist
  • Tyler Rental
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From left to right: Robert Siedman, Director of Engineering & Technical Services; Andy Cowen, Operator/Mechanic; Chris Barnett, Roving Relief Operator; and John Stanley, Operator/Electrician.


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