Monday, January 4, 2010

Cook Inlet Aquaculture's power struggle

We have a heck of a battle going on between Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association and its power provider, Homer Electric Association.

It seems the aquaculture association is in jeopardy of having the power shut off to its remote Tutka Bay salmon hatchery.

The problem is that the buried power line that runs under Tutka Bay Lagoon to the hatchery is in poor condition and "constitutes a continuing hazard to the safety of the public," HEA says.

The aquaculture association's position is, OK, so fix it.

HEA is saying fine, but you hatchery guys have to pay to either lay a new submarine line or string an overhead line. The cost: $200,000 to $464,000.

The aquaculture people are saying no way can we afford that, but we desperately need power to keep our baby fish alive.

Naturally, a bunch of lawyers are now involved, and the matter is pending before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

Gary Fandrei, executive director of the aquaculture association, lays out his organization's position in this testimony filed with the RCA on Dec. 18.

As I understand it, the power utility feels it's not obligated to make such an expensive outlay for a single customer, and that the hatchery should be able to go with a less expensive option such as on-site generators.

To find HEA's position as well as that of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and others, click here and look under "Documents."


Anonymous said...

Great reading documents, Wesley.

Looks like HEA doesn't have a let to stand on - bet the ruling will show they need to continue to provide power to CIAA.

But it also looks like CIAA will have to upgrade its backup electricity generators - unless they want to continue to lose 300,000 sockeye smolts like they did this past October when their back-up system failed during a power outage at the Tutka Bay salmon hatchery.

HEA points out that there will be "unexpected" regularity to power outages over the regular course of business, and if your business depends on uninterrupted electricity usage, it is the responsibility of that business to have reliable power back-up.

Hence hospitals all have reliable back-up power generators to keep everything running during power outages.

CIAA needs to upgrade it back-up systems, else it will have recurring episodes of dead smolts in the upcoming years.

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