Recent Nushagak Co-op blackouts the result of expansion project

Feb 6, 2019

Nushagak Cooperative explained that a power outage in January was caused by an old piece of equipment failing, and the two most recent blackouts occured while the co-op was installing new equipment. 

Nushagak Cooperative's service area
Credit Nushagak Cooperative, Inc.

Lights around Dillingham and some surrounding villages flickered then went out several times in recent weeks. The longest of the power outages lasted about an hour.

Nushagak Cooperative said that this outage, which happened on Jan. 10, occurred because an old piece of equipment at the power plant failed. The cooperative had already planned to replace the equipment in mid-January.

The power briefly went out twice this month.

“The two from last week were programming issues as we were bringing on the new controls and switchgear,” explained Bob Armstrong, the operations manager at Nushagak Cooperative. “We have a great team of professionals working on this project, but there is always the possibility of equipment failure. We do not expect any more problems from the rest of the project.”

A switch gear controls the flow of electricity. The co-op is replacing it and other equipment as a part of a larger project to increase energy production capacity.

“We are expanding our generation capabilities. We’ll be increasing our capacity by 4.25 megawatts for growth. We’ll be picking up Icicle [Seafoods’ processing plant] and feeding them as well. Everybody’s probably seen the work going on Wood River. That’s for a feeder line that goes out there as well.”

To put that growth in perspective, last summer the city of Dillingham used 4.8 megawatts during the peak of fishing season. While Nushagak Cooperative cannot promise that there will be no more power outages, Armstrong said that he does not anticipate more blackouts as a result of the expansion project.

Nushagak Co-op serves Aleknagik, Clark’s Point, Dillingham, Ekuk, Manokotak and Portage Creek.

Contact the author at avery@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.