Healy Unit 2 Power Plant Accomplishes First Major Step Towards Startup

Golden Valley Electric Association has fired the boiler at the Healy 2 power plant for the first time since 2016.

The plant was fired on oil yesterday, beginning a test phase that will continue for the next three months. This initial oil firing will allow crews to troubleshoot many of the inter-related systems and identify any issues that need to be addressed during recommissioning. Work will continue this summer with the plant transitioning from oil to coal for additional testing of equipment and systems. The plant is expected to begin producing a small amount of power during this testing with full commercial operation slated for September.

The plant operated briefly in 2016, but was shut down after two separate small explosions, one in March and another in November that year. During the time the plant has been shut down, modifications have been made to the plant’s coal feed and fuel transport systems which were determined to be the root cause of the two mill puff explosions back in 2016.

GVEA purchased the plant from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) in December 2013. Since then, GVEA has updated systems and replaced obsolete controls. This includes significant environmental upgrades which will be tested during the recommissioning period.

“We are pleased to have gotten to this point to demonstrate the clean coal technology originally designed as part of a Federal Department of Energy project. The recommissioning project is on schedule and on budget,” said Cory Borgeson, President & CEO for GVEA. The community of Healy has seen the addition of 35 new permanent jobs with this project.

Usibelli Coal Mine is gearing up to supply the fuel, which will be delivered by truck. Contractor Bluewater Energy Solutions is performing the startup and commissioning for the restart of Healy Unit 2.

GVEA Breaks Ground on Alaska’s Largest Solar Project

Golden Valley Electric Association has begun construction of a 563-kilowatt solar demonstration project in South Fairbanks.

GVEA’s solar installation will be the largest photovoltaic (PV) system in the State of Alaska. The project should produce enough energy to power 71 homes (using an average of 660 kWh per month).

“GVEA is expanding its renewable energy portfolio with the addition of this solar PV system,” said Cory Borgeson, GVEA’s President & CEO.

GVEA’s Board of Directors approved this project last fall. A local Fairbanks business, ABS Alaskan Inc. will supply the 1,760 panels, each of which has a peak generating potential of 320 watts. “This solar farm will give Golden Valley a better understanding of the performance of a solar farm on our system and the resulting cost per kilowatt-hour,” Borgeson said.

Crews are constructing the solar project on a 3-acre parcel between Van Horn Road and Bidwell Street. The site is located next to GVEA’s Wilson Substation and the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). There’s room for future expansion, and the panels will be visible looking north from Van Horn Road.

The project will cost just over a million dollars to complete. A grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program will offset $225,000 of the cost.

Golden Valley has a dedicated web page for the project – to be redirected to that web page, click here. The page includes a 2-minute explanatory video from project manager Nathan Minnema, and a live video feed of the construction as it happens will be available soon.

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