King Cove electricity is now 80 percent hydro

Edgmon: This project is a role model for other communities

Ribbon cutting at Waterfall Creek hydro facility. From left, Katie Conway, government relations director, Alaska Energy Authority; Aleutians East Borough Mayor Alvin Osterback: Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel; Marilyn Mack, wife of King Cove Mayor Henry Mack; Mayor Henry Mack; and Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham. (Henry and Marilyn Mack are holding their granddaughters, Khloe and Kambria Schneider). Photo courtesy of Aleutians East Borough

Electricity in King Cove costs 30 cents a kilowatt hour, thanks to two hydroelectric facilities, which have together boosted the city’s annual energy production to 80 percent of the community’s annual power demand of 4.5 megawatts.

The average cost per kilowatt hour in rural areas of the state is 45 cents.

“We are very happy that the city, residents and businesses are saving money from this renewable energy source, said Mayor Henry Mack, who joined other dignitaries on Sept. 19 for the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony of Waterfall Creek, King Cove’s second hydroelectric facility. “Delta Creek, our first hydro facility, has been saving King Cove residents and local businesses about $1,000 per year in energy costs.”

New sign for the Waterfall Creek Hydroelectric Facility at King Cove.
Photo courtesy of Aleutians East Borough

Waterfall Creek, which began operating in May 2017, has produced more than 1.3 megawatts of energy and has performed remarkably well, noted Laura Tanis, communications director for the Aleutians East Borough, who provided details on the event.

Also on hand for the ceremony were Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel; Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham; Borough Mayor Alvin Osterback and Barbara Blake, senior advisor to Gov. Bill Walker.

“This project is a role model for other communities, because every community aspires, to some extent, to have renewable energy,” Edgmon said. “I see places like King Cove, Kodiak and Cordova leading the way.”

Waterfall Creek, nearly a decade in the making, cost $6.52 million. Funding included $3.58 million in grants/funding, with $2.8 million from the Alaska Energy Authority, $500,000 from the borough, $240,000 from the city of King Cove and $41,000 from HDR. Long-term debt of $2.94 million was also used to finance the project, including $1.51 million from the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank and $1.43 million from the State Power Project Fund.

Delta Creek, the city’s first hydro facility, went online in 1994 and is about twice the size of Waterfall Creek. For the past 24 years, Delta Creek has produced more than 50 percent of the annual energy needs of this city, home to Peter Pan Seafoods’ largest processing facility. The plant, which dates back to the early 1900s, processes king crab, bairdi and opilio tanner crab, pollock, cod, salmon, halibut, and black cod.

Over the past two and a half decades, King Cove’s hydro facilities have displaced 3.2 million gallons of diesel, Mack said.

“That’s about $5.8 million in cost savings,” he said. “Our carbon footprint is much smaller as a result, which is quite an accomplishment.”

The economy of King Cove, Agdaagux in the Aleut language, is dependent on commercial fishing and seafood processing. The area was settled in 1911 and incorporated as a city in 1949. Its current population is 950, making King Cove the second largest city in the Aleutians East Borough.