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  • Monday, July 22, 2019
  • New Hydrokinetic Turbine Commissioned in Igiugig

A crowd of over 60 people attended a commissioning ceremony in Igiugig last week for a new hydrokinetic turbine developed by Ocean Renewable Power Co.

The village council in Igiugig, population 70, is the first tribal entity in the nation licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to harness river water that’s not connected to a dam. The community, located on Lake Iliamna at the head of the Kvichak River, has been the test site for two previous prototype hydrokinetic systems.

The 40-kilowatt RivGen has the potential to offset up to 50% of the community’s electric energy generation. The electricity rate for residents in Igiuigig is over $1 per kilowatt hour before power cost equalization reduces the rate to around $0.58 per kWh. The PCE program was just recently cut from the Alaska operating budget.

“This is a troubling time in Alaska,” said AlexAnna Salmon, president of Igiugig Tribal Council. “But energy conservation by harnessing our wind, solar, and current is setting a worldwide example of what is possible with community support, solid leadership and will power.”

Plans are underway for the installation of a second RivGen device in conjunction with smart microgrid electronics and energy storage. When completed, the system could reduce diesel usage by up to 90 percent.

Steve DeWitt, U.S. Department of Energy, said the project will benefit the domestic hydrokinetic industry by increasing knowledge of marine energy systems, the interaction of underwater turbines with salmon and how systems contribute to providing stable power for local microgrids. “With this data in hand, we hope that other communities considering similar systems will be able to make, with greater confidence, the right decisions for their community’s future,” DeWitt said. “I believe that what we are doing here in Igiugig is a model for what can happen throughout Alaska and Canada, in other similar small, independent communities.”

ACEP researchers and affiliate researchers assisted the project by researching frazil ice that could impact the communications cables and fisheries surveys.

 

Dignitaries gather for the commissioning ceremony for ORPC’s RivGen hydrokinetic system on the bank of Lake Illiamna in Igiugig. Photo by Amanda Byrd.