The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Tony Gorman
For the Star 

Kick-off celebration held for new hydro project

CVEA says it is ahead of schedule at the Allison Creek construction site


Tony Gorman photo

Robert Wilkinson, CEO of CVEA, gives a speech during a ceremony hosted by the cooperative, which brought industry types together for a kickoff celebration.

Copper Valley Electric Association held a kick-off celebration for its future hydroelectric project a week ago Tuesday, despite the fact its contractors have been working on it for the last several months.

A small group of guests was invited to the event, which was held in front of the site of the future power facility at the base of the run-of-the-river project.

"As you can see this isn't your typical groundbreaking ceremony," CVEA CEO Robert Wilkinson said. "A ton of work has been done and we're happy to say we've been happy with our first construction season."

According to CVEA, the Allison Creek Hydroelectric Project is expect to save residents in the Valdez and the Copper River Valley $2.415 million dollars in energy costs.

Last June, Jaime Matthews, the manager for administration and finance for CVEA, said cost for a kwh from Allison Creek will be 13.75 cents.

So far, crews have been able to build a road up to the side of a mountain to allow access to transport equipment. CVEA Project Manager/Executive Engineer John Duhamel said crews have been able to make significant progress thanks to cooperative weather.

"We've had some great weather," Duhamel said at a reception following the ceremony. "That allowed us to get some gravel in to get the roads shedding nicely and that just enhanced construction."

Duhamel says a key part of the project has been a tunnel in that area. The tunnel will allow access to the steeper parts of the project. Seventy-five percent of the 700 foot tunnel has been completed. Once the tunnel is finished, crews will be able to pour concrete on the diversion structure.

Another part of the project that has been constructed is the thrust block. Water from Allison Creek will travel down a buried penstock to the powerhouse at the base of the project. So far, the foundation of the facility has been laid down.

Duhamel said CVEA is a couple of weeks ahead of schedule in constructing the project, but it is still hard to tell how much progress they have made.

"I'm guessing a couple a weeks ahead and we're still on target with our costs," Duhamel said. "Next year, we should be finished with all of our outside work."

CVEA will shut down construction for the winter and resume next spring. Crews will take another break in the winter before making their final specs in 2016. By then the project should be up and running.


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