Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
July 2019

Vol. 24, No.29 Week of July 21, 2019

Igiugig hydrokinetic gets launch party

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

Igiugig in southwestern Alaska celebrated July 16 as the Igiugig Village Council and Ocean Renewable Power Co. prepared for deployment of the company’s first commercial hydrokinetic system in the Kvichak River.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy was among a crowd of more than 60 people gathered at Lake Iliamna and the Kvichak River for the unveiling of ORPC’s first commercial device, a 40-kilowatt RivGen Power System. It will be deployed long term in the Kvichak River in the next few days, the company and the Igiugig’s Village Council said in a July 16 press release. The system will provide up to one-half of the Igiugig community’s electricity needs annually.

The village and ORPC said plans are underway for installation of a second device “in conjunction with smart microgrid electronics and energy storage.” When that installation is completed, the system will reduce diesel usage in Igiugig by 90%.

The Igiugig Village Council received a 10-year pilot project license for the in-river turbine power generation project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in late May and is the first tribal entity in the United States to receive this approval. (See FERC’s description of the project in story in June 23 issue of Petroleum News.)

The village and ORPC have been collaborating on the project since 2009.

The Igiugig Hydrokinetic Project is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Alaska Energy Authority, the Igiugig Village Council and private investors.

ORPC works with more than 80 partners, contractors and consultants in Alaska and has spent more than $5 million in the state since 2009.

Goal sustainability

Igiugig Village, 48 miles southwest of Iliamna and 56 miles northwest of King Salmon, has 69 residents, mainly Yup’ik Eskimos, Aleuts and Athabascan Indians.

“The project is a centerpiece of the community’s long-term economic and environmental vision, sustainably fits with the local river’s salmon resource and addresses occurrences such as seasonal ice impacts in the Kvichak,” said Igiugig Village Council President AlexAnna Salmon.

“I will be closely following the progress of the deployment of the RivGen system over the coming months and I am hopeful that similar projects can be developed to reduce energy costs for our smaller communities,” Dunleavy said in the release.

Steve DeWitt, U.S. Department of Energy, said the project would increase knowledge of marine energy systems, interaction of underwater turbines with salmon and how system contribute to providing stable power for local microgrids.

“With this data in hand, we hope that other communities considering similar systems will be able to make, with greater confidence, the right decisions for their community’s future,” DeWitt said. He called what was being done in Igiugig “a model for what can happen throughout Alaska and Canada, in other similar small, independent communities.”

Christopher Sauer, ORPC chairman, co-founder and CEO, said “ORPC’s RivGen Power System is the future of sustainability for remote river communities around the world,” and noted that some 700 million live in remote communities dependent on diesel.

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