AEL&P: Flume Trail opens Oct. 7, hydropower expected to supply Juneau through winter

The Flume Trail is scheduled to open on Monday. Phase two of construction will take place next summer. The new, box-like flume will sit on top of this surface. (Photo courtesy of AEL&P)

Update (Monday, 12:56 p.m.)Scott Burton, KTOO

The Gold Creek Flume Trail was supposed to reopen to foot traffic Monday. However, heavy rain over the weekend caused landslides which damaged two parts of the trail. Alaska Electric Light and Power Co. estimates the cleanup and repair will take four weeks. (Read more.)

Original story

“We anticipate being able to supply all of our firm customers through fall and winter with hydro,” said Debbie Driscoll, Alaska Electric Light and Power Co. vice president and director of consumer affairs on Monday’s “Juneau Afternoon.”

“Firm” customers include houses and businesses as opposed to “interruptible” customers like Greens Creek Mine and cruise ships who can supply their own power when needed.

“Our reservoirs are above where we were last year, but we’re still below normal,” said Driscoll. “We’re at about 85% of normal out at Snettisham (Hydroelectric Project). We still have our interruptible customers disconnected to preserve hydro for our firm customers,” said Driscoll.

While Snettisham provides about 70% of Juneau’s hydropower, it is augmented by Lake Dorothy (17%), Annex Creek (6%), Salmon Creek (6%) and Gold Creek (1%), Driscoll said.

Gold Creek is a run-of-the-stream hydro facility that gleans water off the creek when there is enough water. After being diverted, water runs through the box-like flume until it is funneled into a penstock where it gains pressure to run the generator located in the metal building behind the Salvation Army Family Store.

The flume was initially built in 1896, though the recent version was built in 1912 and 1913 and repaired over the years, said Bryan Farrell, an AEL&P mechanical and generation engineer who was also on “Juneau Afternoon.”

Phase one of the flume’s rebuild, which began in April 2019, is just about done. It will reopen to foot traffic on Monday, Oct. 7. Phase two of construction will begin in April 2020 and is planned to conclude in October 2020.

Listen to the full interview below to hear more about the flume’s history and function, and how to travel on it safely in winter.

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