OCCP finalizes negotiations with geothermal engineering firm
A geothermal energy project in Unalaska is taking another step forward in development. Ounalashka Corporation/Chena Power, LLC, the company responsible for the Makushin Geothermal Project, says it’s finalizing negotiations with a renewable energy firm to develop the Makushin Geothermal Project.
That could be a major milestone for the project, which aims to develop geothermal energy from Makushin Volcano, about 13 miles from Unalaska’s city center.
The project is being developed through a joint venture between Unalaska’s Native corporation and Fairbanks-based Chena Power. Ounalashka Corporation/Chena Power — known as OCCP — entered into an agreement with the city of Unalaska in 2020, and began building a utility access up to the volcano the following year.
The original agreement required OCCP to obtain financing by the summer of 2021. But the company was unable to meet that deadline, and the city has twice agreed to give them more time to raise funds. In February of this year, the city agreed to extend the company’s funding deadline to the end of 2023.
The geothermal project has taken a back-burner at recent city council meetings. City councilmember Daneen Looby said on Nov. 22 that she hadn’t received news on the project for some time.
“Depending on what’s going to happen with OCCP and the geothermal project, I haven't heard anything about that lately. For quite a while, actually, so I don't know where that's even at,” she said.
But in a statement to KUCB Monday, OCCP’s program manager, Dave Matthews, said the project is moving forward. He said they are in the final stages of negotiation with Ormat Technologies, an alternative energy company founded in Israel and now headquartered in Reno, Nevada. The company has built over 190 power plants, according to its website, including geothermal plants in the United States, Kenya and Indonesia.
Matthews says they’ll contract with Ormat to engineer and construct the project, and they expect to have a signing ceremony in Jan. 2023.
Matthews acknowledged funding has been slow, but said there are now two financing opportunities that he called “promising.” He said they expect to make an announcement in the first quarter of 2023 regarding overall project financing.
He also said the company “has secured all the necessary permits required to commence and substantially complete the necessary construction from the Broad Bay shore to the plant site.”
OCCP says they still plan to complete the Makushin Geothermal Project by October 2027.