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Partnership formed to develop geothermal project in Alaska

Downtown Juneau, capital of Alaska (source: flickr/Kristin Myers Harvey, creative commons)
Carlo Cariaga 4 Dec 2019

A newly formed company is hoping to finally succeed in putting up a geothermal plant in Unalaska after decades of false starts

Ounalashka Corporation and Chena Power, LLC have formed a company that aims to produce geothermal power at the Makushin Volcano in Unalaska, Alaska. Geothermal development in Unalaska has had about three decades of false starts, the failures of which were associated with high start-up costs.

With the support of the city council, the newly formed company is seeking to a loan worth $350 to $500 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. The funding will de-risk the project, while feasibility studies will no longer be necessary on account of detailed research performed in Makushin over the last 60 years.

A test well drilled in the 1980s succeeded in tapping a hot water reservoir that could produce at least 12 MW of electricity.

By reducing the city’s reliance on fossil fuels, the company is hoping to reduce the city’s consumption of fuel, which is currently at 200,000 gallons of fuel monthly. If successful, the geothermal project will also lower electricity costs in the region.

Corporation CEO Chris Salts that they are targeting commercial operations to start by 2022. The leaders of the company will be attending a City Council on January 14 to ask them to sign a formal power purchase agreement (PPA). They will be presenting more information on the proposed project at the same meeting.

Source: Alaska Public Media