Rebuilt Cordova hydro plant brings waves of energy
June 7, 2011
Published in the Cordova Times By Jennifer Gibbins: Once diverted from Humpback Creek, water flows through a massive penstock running parallel to the creek before crossing over it, 100 feet above the canyon floor. (Alaska Newspapers, Jennifer Gibbins)
Water flows from the tailrace into the plant where three turbines convert the energy to electricity. Close to 80 percent of Cordova’s energy will be generated by hydro once Humpback Creek comes online later this month. (Alaska Newspapers, Jennifer Gibbins)
Cordova Electric Cooperative (CEC) is in the final countdown to bringing the Humpback Creek hydro facility back online this month after five years and a $21 million rebuild. Originally built in 1909, and again in 1991, the facility was wiped out following the second of two major floods in 2006 that ripped out high- and low-voltage lines and equipment, bridge abutments, stream banks and rip-rap, and even compromised the concrete foundation underneath the station’s plant.
The flood waters floated a 10,000 pound transformer out of the plant and down river. A 500-pound transformer was washed half a mile out into the ocean and discovered weeks later during a minus 2-foot tide. The devastation not only disabled the plant, it demoralized CEC staff who had just completed significant maintenance work on the existing 1991 facility.
“Humpback Creek hydro is vitally important to Cordova’s energy security,” said Clay Koplin, CEC chief executive officer. “This is energy that is generated in Cordova and is not subject to market fluctuations and barge logistics. We have been absolutely committed to a high-quality rebuild that would provide electric service to our grand children, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.” Read more