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Makushin Geothermal Power Project End-of-Year Update

by | Jan 1, 2021 | Alaska Native, Energy, Featured, News

Makushin Volcano.

Makushin Geothermal Power Project

Chena Power and Ounalashka Corporation have provided an update on the Makushin Geothermal Power Project, a green, sustainable energy solution that will tap into Makushin Volcano to provide geothermal energy to the City of Unalaska.

According to the project developers, the Makushin Geothermal Power Project would eliminate 686 tons of NOx, 22 tons of PM10, and 39,000 tons of CO2 per year, as well as eliminate the need for 3.5 million gallons of diesel fuel annually through 2070.

It entails building a 30 megawatt geothermal electrical generation facility with a thirty-year design life. The facility would provide wholesale power for the city of Unalaska, and the projects anticipated capacity is expected to accommodate all of the city’s current and known potential customer base.

The project site is approximately 14 miles from Unalaska, and power would be transmitted to the city’s powergrid via underground/undersea cable. Related construction for the project includes a road from Broad Bay to the project site that would facilitate construction of the project and ongoing maintenance.

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Alaska Business August 2022 Cover

August 2022

In a 2020 annual review, the project developers stated:

“It was just one year ago that Ounalashka Corporation and Chena Power came together to realize the benefit of the local geothermal energy residing within the Makushin Volcano.   

“The project is well on its way we want to highlight some of our accomplishments and briefly share with you our plans for 2021.   

“We also want to convey that there are many individuals and companies that have already helped us along the way and who hold the same belief of a sustainable path forward.  A very special shout out to the entire community of Unalaska who has stepped up with business solutions and collaborations, letters of support, and overall enthusiasm about a tool that will enable more opportunities for their city, region, and role along the Great Circle Route.”

2020 Accomplishments

  • The project assembled a world-class team of professionals and research for the management and successful execution of an alternative energy solution. 
  • A thirty-year Power Purchase Agreement was secured with the City of Unalaska for geothermal power.
  • Environmental, archaeological, biological, and physical field surveys were completed for an access road from Broad Bay to the Makushin power plant site.
  • Project design criteria establishing the specification framework for project development participants was completed.
  • Class 3 level project development budget for financial investors was completed.

Field work being conducted fro the Makushin Geothermal Power Project.

Makushin Geothermal Power Project

Project Goals 2021

  • Acquire major construction permits.
  • Substantially complete access road and work pad construction.
  • Conduct Makushin geothermal resource reconfirmation well and testing.
  • Finalize subsea cable routing and permit requirements.
  • Secure long term project financing independently or through collaborative partnership.

The project is located on private lands owned by Aleut Corporation, which means the federal permit process will only involve the US Army Corps of Engineers (because of the dredge and fill of waters and coastal alterations) and the Environmental Protection Agency (because of the project’s underground injection control program).

According to the project team, “Because of the expected low impact of this project, it’s unlikely an EIS will be required.”

On the state level, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will need to issue permits for culverts, bridges, and buried pipes as road and pipeline infrastructure will affect local streams. Permits will also be required from the Department of Natural Resources for structures in the tidal zone and from the Department of Environmental Conservation for the reinjection of geothermal fluids through its wastewater discharge permit program as well as air quality permitting.

Assuming financing and permitting proceed as anticipated, the project has an estimated date of Q4 2023 to begin commercial operations.

Tasha Anderson is the Associate/Web Editor for Alaska Business.

Alaska Business Magazine August 2022 cover

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