Construction underway for Togiak generator and tank farm

Aug 3, 2017

The dated AVEC power plant and tank farm in Togiak are being replaced, and plans are in the works to connect to Twin Hills.

Ridge Construction workers lay gravel for new power plant and tank farm in Togiak.
Credit Nick Ciolino/KDLG

The steel tanks containing gas and diesel in the village of Togiak are not up to code. Fuel is barged in to the village twice a year, and the underground pipes leading to the tanks have had issues with leaks in the past. The tanks themselves are brown with rust.

Construction on a new, code-compliant tank farm and power plant in the city’s center began in June, and is proceeding on schedule.

KDLG's Nick Ciolino has details:

Alaskan Village Electric Co-op is a non-profit providing power for 58 Alaskan communities, including Togiak. AVEC is partnering with the City of Togiak, and Togiak Natives Limited to spearhead the project.

“We’ve actually been working on trying to bring the community to consensus in Togiak for many years,” said Meera Kohler, AVEC President and CEO. “We have an old power plant and a very old tank farm, and the community tank farms are old as well. So it was a logical place to try to put together a project.”

Current TNL tank farm.
Credit Nick Ciolino/KDLG

New 30 thousand gallon fuel tank.
Credit Nick Ciolino/KDLG

The total cost of the new development is $14.8 million, with the bulk of the funding coming from federal grants. AVEC is paying $2.4 million, and TNL is paying $2 million. The tanks will house a combined 630 thousand gallons of diesel and 125 thousand gallons of gasoline. More than half the diesel capacity will be allocated to AVEC, to store fuel for four new generators powering Togiak at a capacity of 2,500 kilowatts. 210 thousand gallons of diesel will be stored for the native corporation’s use, and 60 thousand gallons for the City of Togiak.

Jonathan Forsling is the land planner for TNL. He was hired by the native corporation eight months ago to help get this project started. “It’s going to be at a closer capacity to what we need. Currently we bring in fuel twice a year, and it’s an added cost. Having a larger capacity; being able to fuel up once a year should bring down the cost of fuel,” said Forsling.

Each of the three invested entities will see a reduction in shipping costs, in addition to the savings made by upgrading to fuel efficient tier-4 diesel engines to power the generators. The motors will also reduce exhaust emissions, and the entire facility will be fully self-contained to prevent potential spills from contaminating the soil.

Gravel shipped into Togiak for construction site.
Credit Nick Ciolino/KDLG

“Every way you can look at this it’s an improvement,” said Project Superintendent Rip Patrick. “I think it’s something that is needed throughout western Alaska, just about everywhere you go.”

Going forward, Alaska Energy Authority is spearheading another project to install a transmission line from neighboring Twin Hills to the Togiak power plant. Twin Hills currently operates its own electric utility, and with the tie-line would be able to turn management over to AVEC.

Construction crews are setting the gravel on the site in Togiak, and are working to be able to install the tanks upon their arrival from Dillingham. The old tanks will be decommissioned and disposed in the city’s landfill. The fuel will be transferred to the new tanks, and any hazardous waste will be barged out of Togiak. The new generators are expected to be turned on and fully operational next year.

Contact KDLG reporter Nick Ciolino at fish@KDLG.org or 907-843-1002