Cook Inlet Gas| No offense, but this just seems bizarre …

From yesterday’s Alaska Star, courtesy of today’s Alaska Dispatch (“MEA board moves ahead on new $200 million power plant“).

MEA moves ahead with plans for $200 million Eklutna power plant … Gas source still hazy …

… Matanuska Electric Association’s board of directors has approved two contracts that advance the utility’s plans to build a natural gas-fueled power plant at Eklutna within three years. … MEA also doesn’t know where its fuel is coming from yet.

The story reports that MEA is spending $810K to work on  the construction of a new gas fired plant in the Cook Inlet.  Certainly, MEA needs a source of electricity when its contract with Chugach expires in 2014.  But until the Cook Inlet gas situation sorts out, don’t you think it would make more sense to work with Chugach to extend the life of the existing plant than start down the road of building a $200 million stand alone gas plant?  The utilities, including MEA, are spending a lot of time talking about the benefits of combining their efforts.  See Alaska Dispatch, Utilities co-op finally a Railbelt reality (Dec. 30, 2010).

This seems to be going in the opposite direction.  Why?

3 responses to “Cook Inlet Gas| No offense, but this just seems bizarre …

  1. MEA is building a dual fuel facility using diesel or gas fueled gen sets built in Finland. Just insane.
    That’s what one gets with a liberal BOD. Idiocy.


  2. Alaska is once again in need of someone with the determination of a Wally Hickel, God help us all if it doesn’t happen sooner than later. We will miss out on the chance of economic stability.


  3. Perman Ira

    Hi Brad –

    Looking forward to sharing a week abroad with you in late summer.

    Just stumbled into this post (months late, I know). But I too had the same head-scratching reaction to the Chugach Electric and MEA announcement of new gas-fired generation capacity.

    I had the opportunity to ask a rep from Chugach where, given all the talk about the end of gas from the Kenai, the gas for this plant with a 40 year life span would come from. His response was that there would be gas for 40 years coming from any number of directions: LNG import, coal gasification of the Beluga fields, new exploration on the Kenai Peninsula and in Cook Inlet. One way or another, gas was sure to be the most available, lowest cost major source of electricity (wind and geo-thermal not being considered major sources) for South Central Alaska into the foreseeable future.

    Last weekend I took a side trip from fishing up the road east from Anchor Point. 12 miles in is the new Armstrong LLC gas well. The operation is substantial and growing. I’m not sure if it is on line yet, but a new gas transmission line in in place from the well to the existing pipe grid around Clam Gulch. The pipe is noticeably larger diameter than would be required for a small single field.

    And Escopeta may get their rig here yet this year – or next.

    And Rep Chenault (Kenai) has his own pipe dreams and $200 million in the state’s capital budget to start design work on a gas line from the North Slope to South Central.

    So, its gas, gas, gas, (and a wee bit of wind) that those who play with real money are betting on as our power source for a long, long time to come.