Several national labs and universities will partner with the Alaska community of Cordova to field test new technologies on the city’s power grid.
The goal is to find innovations that could help the rest of the country avoid the kind of widespread power outages that have followed Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $6.2 million for the project.
Cordova Mayor Clay Koplin, who’s also CEO of the city’s electric cooperative, called the grant a win-win.
“The project works both ways,” he said. “Cordova Electric is going to learn a lot about this technology, but the labs are going to learn a lot about actual microgrid environments and what does and doesn’t (work).”
Microgrids, or stand-alone electric grids, are a necessity in much of rural Alaska, where there’s no larger grid to connect to.
But there’s growing interest in the Lower 48, especially after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 – and now Hurricane Irma – left millions of people without power for days or weeks. Hospitals, military bases, and whole towns want to be able to disconnect from the larger grid and generate their own power in an emergency.
Cordova currently runs on a combination of hydro power and diesel generation. The grant will allow the community to add a battery for energy storage, and test out new system controls to get the different parts of the grid talking to each other. That technology can also be key for integrating more renewable energy into a grid.
Koplin said Alaska is a perfect laboratory, because communities have decades of experience running small grids.
“It gives us an opportunity to share some of our capabilities, which are becoming in increasing demand from other countries, they’re starting to recognize that Alaska has a lot of energy leadership on the electric energy side,” he said. “And it also gives us access to world-class technical resources.”
Cordova will work with three national labs and several universities, along with the Alaska Center for Energy and Power at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative.
- “I don’t know if the gravity really is hitting everybody, but we’ve been arguing for recognition since statehood, and under this administration the attorney general has provided an opinion that, yes, tribes do exist, that we have inherent sovereignty,” said Richard Peterson, president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.
For third time in 2 years, state officials cite Skagway Assemblyman for financial disclosure violationsHenry’s checkered candidate disclosure record was discovered when he pleaded guilty to federal tax crimes in early 2016. Henry hadn’t paid income tax for a number of years.
- Studies suggest most of the people coming to the area with the warplanes will likely offset a decrease in the Fairbanks-area population from cuts in funding for state agencies and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
- BP isn't disputing that the incidents took place. The company has already taken extreme steps to address the issue.