Alaska power plant expected to be ready in 2018

Healy 2 Coal Power Plan in Alaska

FAIRBANKS — An Alaska coal plant created to generate low-cost electricity is expected to be operational next year, plant owners said.

Golden Valley Electric Association President and CEO Cory Borgeson said Tuesday MillPro LLC “assured the board of directors the plant will work,” The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/2wLwwvZ) reported.

Golden Valley Electric Association purchased the dormant coal power plant in 2013 for $44 million, and officials knew it would need improvements.

“We underestimated the effort and complexity needed to get the plant started,” Borgeson said.

Two days after passing its commissioning test in March 2016, a “mill puff explosion” shut down the plant.

A second mill puff explosion halted the plant again in November 2016.

Golden Valley Electric Association hired MillPro to determine why the explosions occurred.

Borgeson says the firm determined “minor modifications” must be made to improve pressure levels in the coal feed system. These proposed modifications would monitor heat and pressure in the coal feed system to prevent explosions.

The costs of the modifications have not been finalized. But Borgeson said it should be less than $20 million to complete the work, rehire employees and train them, and then run Healy 2 through commissioning. Borgeson expects the plant will be operational in July 2018.

Borgeson said in May when Healy 2 is operational, it would produce energy competitive with anything produced in the Railbelt and could be sold to other utilities, thus lowering energy costs for Golden Valley Electric Association members.