Hydropower in Alaska

Bradley Lake Hydro Project
(Photo: Homer Electric Association)

Alaska has a strong track record of developing successful hydroelectric projects that provide clean, reliable energy across the state. Hydroelectric power is Alaska’s largest source of renewable energy, supplying about 21 percent of the state’s electrical energy in an average water year. Dozens of hydro projects provide power to Alaskans, including the 120-megawatt Alaska Energy Authority-owned Bradley Lake project near Homer, which supplies 8 percent of the Railbelt’s electrical energy.


Current Hydroelectric Projects in Alaska*

Annex Creek – This 3.6 megawatt (MW) project, operated by Alaska Electric Light and Power, was originally developed in 1915 by the Gastineau Alaska Engineers. It was automated in 1977 and currently provides about 10 percent of the City and Borough of Juneau’s electrical power needs.

Beaver Falls – This 5.4 MW facility is owned and operated by Ketchikan Public Utilities and provides power to the City of Ketchikan. It consists of three separate generators built between 1947 and 1954.

Black Bear Lake – The Black Bear Lake Hydro project is a 4.5 MW hydroelectric project at Black Bear Lake on Prince of Wales Island, approximately 15 miles northeast of Klawock. It supplies power to the communities of Prince of Wales Island and was the first hydro project in Alaska to be certified as low impact by the Low Impact Hydropower Institute. Black Bear Lake was completed in 1995 and cost $10 million to permit and construct.

Blind Slough – Blind Slough is a 2 MW project that has been supplying the City of Petersburg with electrical power since the 1920s. The project is located on Crystal Lake on Mitkof Island approximately 16.5 highway miles south of the City of Petersburg. Water used for generation is either used directly by the Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery or is returned to Crystal Creek, which eventually enters Blind Slough. It provides about 20 percent of the electricity for Petersburg Municipal Light and Power.

Blue Lake – The City of Sitka owns and operates this 6 MW project on Sawmill Creek, which went into operation in 1961. It currently provides about 20 percent of electrical demand to the City of Sitka. Sitka recently received three separate State of Alaska legislative grants totaling $49 million to increase the dam height and replace the powerhouse and a fish valve unit, increasing generating capacity to 16.9 MW. The expansion is under construction.

Bradley Lake – Bradley Lake, a 120 MW hydroelectric project, is 27 miles southeast of Homer and serves the Railbelt from Homer to Fairbanks. Bradley Lake which was constructed and is owned, by the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA), went into commercial operation in 1991 and is operated by the Homer Electric Association. The project is an impoundment hydroelectric facility with a 125-foot high dam and a 3.5-mile power tunnel. It cost more than $300 million ($479 million in 2007 dollars).

The Battle Creek diversion project is currently in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensing and will increase the annual energy of Bradley Lake by 36,000 to 42,000 megawatt hours (MWh) annually.

Chester Lake – This 1 MW project is owned by Metlakatla Power and Light and provides electricity to the Southeast village of Metlakatla.

Cooper Lake – Homer Electric Association owns and operates this 16.7 MW facility on Cooper Lake, Cooper Creek and Kenai Lake near the community of Cooper Landing. It began operation in 1960 and was relicensed by the FERC in 2007.

As part of the settlement agreement reached during relicensing, Stetson Creek will be diverted to Cooper Lake, increasing annual energy generation by 5,500 MWh. The diversion will also increase the anadromous fish habitat quality in the upper reaches of Cooper Creek.

Delta Creek – This 800 kW project supplies 100 percent of the Aleutian community of King Cove’s electrical needs and lowers the cost of electricity to $0.24 / kWh, the lowest, single-site cost of power among all 160+ communities in the State of Alaska’s Power Cost Equalization program.

Dewey Lakes – The 943 kW run-of-the-river Dewey Lakes Hydro Project is located adjacent to downtown Skagway. This project was built in the early 1900s and has been operated by Alaska Power & Telephone since 1957.

Eklutna – The Elkutna hydroelectric facility, brought online by the federal government in 1955, produces 30 MW of generation capacity. It is currently operated by Anchorage Municipal Light & Power and is the cheapest energy source connected to the Railbelt energy grid.

Falls Creek – This project built by Gustavus Electric Company was completed in July 2009 and provides Gustavus with .8MW of power.

Goat Lake – The Goat Lake hydroelectric facility is a storage project with a 4 MW capacity that started operations in 1997. The Lake is used as a reservoir without any dam. It was certified as a Low Impact Hydropower project by the Low Impact Hydropower Institute in 2007. Alaska Power & Telephone operates the Goat Lake facility, which provides power to Skagway and Haines.

Gold Creek – Gold Creek Hydropower, currently operated by Alaska Electric Light and Power, is a 1.6 MW run-of-the-river project that was originally constructed in 1914 with 800 kW generating capacity. An additional 800 kW of generating capacity was incorporated in the 1950s. This project, located in downtown Juneau, produces power seasonally with peak production around May.

Green Lake – This 18.6 MW hydroelectric facility is owned and operated by the City and Borough of Sitka and provides the majority of electric power to Sitka and surrounding areas. It began operation in 1979.

Humpback Creek – This is a 1.3 MW run-of-the-river project roughly 7 miles north of the Cordova boat harbor. It is owned and operated by Cordova Electric Cooperative and was commissioned in 1990. Cordova Electric Cooperative received $8 million from AEA’s Renewable Energy Fund and the intake structure was replaced after a significant high-flow event in 2011, using funds provided by FEMA.

Kasidaya Creek – This project between Haines and Skagway was constructed by Alaska Power & Telephone Company, and generates between 300 Kw and 3 MW, depending on the season.

Ketchikan Lakes – This 4.2 MW project consists of three generators built between 1923 and 1957. It is owned and operated by Ketchikan Public Utilities and provides power to the City of Ketchikan.

Lake Dorothy – This 14.3 MW project, located near the Snettisham hydroelectric facilities near Juneau, increased the power supply to Juneau by 20 percent when it went online in 2009. The hydro project also provides power to Princess Cruise Lines and Greens Creek Mining Company.

Larsen Bay – This 475 kW project provides electricity and city water for the rural community of Larsen Bay and a fish processing plant on Kodiak Island. It went into commercial operation in 1991 and was upgraded in January 2009.

Lutak- This 285 kW run-of-river project provides power to the Haines-Skagway region. It began operation in 2002.

Pelican – This 700 kW hydroelectric facility provides electricity to the Southeast town of Pelican. It began operation in 1988 and was awarded a $2,274,000 grant for upgrades by the AEA’s Alaska Renewable Energy Fund in 2008.

Petersburg – This 2 MW project is owned by Petersburg Municipal Light and Power and provides electricity to the town of Petersburg in Southeast Alaska.

Power Creek – The Power Creek hydroelectric plant is located 7 miles east of Cordova and has a total installed generating capacity of 6 MW. It is owned by the Cordova Electric Cooperative and provides about 50 percent of electrical power to the town of Cordova and surrounding areas. It was commissioned in 1997.

Purple Lake – This 3.9 MW project is owned by Metlakatla Light and Power and provides electricity to the city of Metlakatla.

Salmon Creek – The current 6.7 MW impoundment project at Salmon Creek was built in 1984 and is operated by Alaska Electric Light & Power. The lower powerhouse, which remains in operation today, provides more than 10 percent of the electric energy demand to Juneau and its surroundings. A power facility has existed at the site since 1913, with significant upgrades and repairs in 1935 and 1967. The upper powerhouse, rebuilt in 1935 after the original was destroyed by fire, was taken out of commission in 1998.

Silvis Lake – The Silvis Lake Power Plant is a 2.1 MW project built in 1968 by Ketchikan Public Utilities to provide power to the City of Ketchikan.

Snettisham – This 78 MW hydroelectric facility is the largest in Southeast Alaska, providing 80 percent of the power used by Juneau and Douglas. It was built by the U.S. Corps of Engineers in 1979 and sold to the State of Alaska in 1998. It is currently operated by Alaska Electric Light and Power under a contract with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA). A 44-mile transmission line runs between the dams and Juneau.

Solomon Gulch – The Solomon Gulch Hydroelectric Project is a 12 MW facility serving Valdez and Glennallen. The project began commercial operation on July 1, 1982. It is owned and is operated and maintained by the Copper Valley Electric Association (CVEA).

South Fork Black Bear – This 2 MW run-of-the-river hydroelectric project was constructed in 2004-2005 to supplement the 4.5 MW Black Bear Lake project, providing a back-up supply of electricity for the communities of Prince of Wales Island. The project was completed by Alaska Power & Telephone, with grant/loan assistance from the Denali Commission and the Alaska Energy Authority.

Swan Lake – This 22.4 MW remote (accessible only by boat or plane) facility is connected to the Ketchikan Public Utilities system via a 30-mile transmission line. It is operated by the Southeast Alaska Power Agency (SEAPA). It came online in 1983 and currently operates at near-full capacity.

The Swan-Tyee Intertie was completed in 2010, which interconnects the Swan and Tyee Hydroelectric projects for the benefit of the cities of Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg.

Tazimina – The project, owned by Iliamna-Newhalen-Nondalton Electric Coopemtive (INNEC), has an installed capacity of 824 kW and is expandable to 1.5 MW. It is a run-of-the-river project that came online in 1998. It is located on the Tazimina River about 12 miles northeast of Iliamna Lake.

Terror Lake – The project is located approximately 25 miles southwest of the City of Kodiak, and it is accessible by float plane and boat only. The project was placed into service January 1985 and produces up to 20 MW for Kodiak City and surrounding areas. Kodiak Electric Association now generates 90 percent of its electricity with hydropower and windpower produced by turbines installed in 2009 on Pillar Mountain. A third 10 MW unit is being added to the Terror Lake powerhouse to increase generation capacity.

Town Creek-  This 100 kW run-of-river project provides power to the City of Akutan. It was constructed in 1990 and has recently undergone a renovation of its intake structures to increase annual energy.

Tyee – The Tyee Lake Hydroelectric project is located in Southeast Alaska, approximately 40 miles southeast of the City of Wrangell. It generates up to 20 MW of electricity for the cities of Wrangell and Petersburg. It is interconnected with the Swan Hydroelectric project and the City of Ketchikan via the Swan-Tyee Intertie. Tyee Hydroelectric is owned by SEAPA.


New Projects

Allison Creek- Allison Creek is a 6.5 MW run-of-river project located near Solomon Gulch above the Alyeska Pipeline Terminal in Valdez. Copper Valley Electric Association is developing this project.

Fivemile Creek- The Fivemile Creek project is located near Chitina. It is a high-head 400 kW site, currently in licensing.

Gartina Falls- The 455 kW run-of-river project, now under construction, would offset approximately 30 percent of the diesel generation for the City of Hoonah. It includes a small diversion-dam and intake structure at the head of Gartina Falls and a steel penstock and powerhouse at the base of the falls.

Indian River- Indian River is a 180 kW run-of-river hydroelectric project located near Tenakee Springs. It is a FERC-exempt project located on lands in the Tongass National Forest.

Mahoney Lake – The proposed 9.6 MW project will be located in Southeast Alaska approximately five air miles northeast of the city of Ketchikan. The FERC licensing process was completed in 1998.

Packers Creek- Packers Creek is 177 kW run-of-river project located near Chignik Lagoon.

Reynolds Creek – This 5 MW project is being overseen by AEA and the Southeast Conference and will consist of construction a hydroelectric facility on Reynolds Creek on Prince of Wales Island.

Along with the hydro facility, a 10.5-mile transmission line to connect into the existing grid on Prince of Wales Island.

Southfork-  The Southfork Hydroelectric Project is a 1 MW project located in the south fork of Eagle River that is privately owned and sells power to Matanuska Electric Association (MEA).

Thayer Lake- Thayer Lake is a 1+ MW run-of-river project on Admiralty Island that will serve the Village of Angoon.

Waterfall Creek- This FERC-exempt hydroelectric project, located near King Cove, will supplement the Delta Creek Hydroelectric project and share the powerhouse and existing transmission line.

Whitman Lake – The Whitman Lake Hydroelectric Project is located approximately four miles east of Ketchikan. Ketchikan Public Utilities is installing 4.6 MW of hydropower generating capacity at the existing Whitman Lake Dam to provide an additional source of clean renewable energy to the city of Ketchikan and the Borough area including Saxman Village.

* Source: Renewable Energy Alaska Project