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Solstice on the Yukon Ushers in the Dawn of In-Stream Hydrokinetic Energy for AP&T in Eagle Alaska


EAGLE, Alaska--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On June 21st, the longest day of the year, in a remote Alaskan Village on the banks of the Yukon, the sun will never set on the western horizon; yet the dawn of a new era in rural Alaskan renewable energy will rise.

"With recent energy costs at historic highs, the timing is right to help mature this technology and determine the broader spectrum of its viability worldwide."

Alaska Power & Telephone Company (AP&T) is poised to take an historic plunge in the Yukon River near the towns of Eagle and Eagle Village this week with the cutting-edge deployment of Alaska's first 25-kilowatt low-impact hydrokinetic river turbine. The first of its type to be placed into commercial service, the in-stream turbine, manufactured by New Energy Corp., is a 4-blade vertical axis unit mounted on a floating platform. The slow-spinning turbine (22 rpm max) produces no emissions, requires no dam and poses very little risk to marine life. "The seeds of this project were sown in the early 90's," states Robert Grimm, CEO and President of AP&T. "With recent energy costs at historic highs, the timing is right to help mature this technology and determine the broader spectrum of its viability worldwide."

With the help of 3.2 million dollars in grant funding from the Denali Commission of Alaska, the native town of Eagle Village will likely become the first in America to become powered solely by a renewable river-turbine hydrokinetic energy source. "One of the primary objectives of this project is the continued displacement of fossil fuel-based energy within our company portfolio," noted Ben Beste, AP&T's lead project engineer. "In fifteen short years we've transitioned from 98 percent carbon-based generation to a 70 percent renewable-based platform." If expanded, the project could displace up to 57,000 gallons of diesel generation fuel annually for the approximately 200 residents of the two Yukon River communities.

Encompassed in the scope of funding are extensive biologic and hydrosonic data collection and field survey work which began in 2007. Groundbreaking fisheries field studies are being conducted in the Yukon this summer and will be spearheaded by the University of Alaska's Fisheries and Oceanic Studies department. "This project is providing a platform from which a goldmine of new information about the Yukon River fishery is being discovered and documented," noted Andy Seitz, UAF professor and lead fisheries field technician.

AP&T has worked closely with the University of Alaska's Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) as grant administrator to compile technical and engineering data about the project and acting as a clearinghouse for dissemination of ongoing research in the public domain. Referencing the project's objectives, ACEP's director Gwen Holdmann states, "Anything will work given enough time and money. Yet this project is not just about making the technology work, but about helping to mature the technology so that it works in a way that is both economically and environmentally sound."

Celebrating 53 years of reliability and innovation in 2010, APC is a subsidiary of Alaska Power & Telephone Company, which provides energy and communication services to 33 communities reaching from the Arctic Circle to the southernmost tip of SE Alaska. APC operates conventional low-impact certified hydroelectric projects on Prince of Wales Island and in the Skagway-Haines area of Southeast AK. The Eagle project is the utility's first venture into the innovative field of river turbines.

To learn more, visit www.aptalaska.com.


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