The Swan Lake dam prior to an expansion of the reservoir’s capacity in 2016 (Photo courtesy of SEAPA)

An expanded hydro-electric dam in southern Southeast Alaska has meant more money for the agency that owns the plant and less need for costly diesel power generation. That was one of the messages from Trey Acteson, CEO of the Southeast Alaska Power Agency, or SEAPA. That agency owns two hydro plants, along with transmission lines, and sells wholesale electricity to utilities in Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg. SEAPA expanded the capacity of its facility at Swan Lake near Ketchikan in 2016.

Acteson Monday told the Petersburg borough assembly about the benefits of the first year of an expanded Swan Lake.

“What that resulted in is another 250,000 of revenue to SEAPA and it offset about 1.1. million dollars in diesel generation to Ketchikan,” Acteson told the Petersburg assembly.

Ketchikan is forced to rely on diesel power during periods of dry or cold weather and the Swan Lake expansion was meant to reduce the need for diesel power. Acteson noted lake levels are low at both of SEAPA’s hydro plants this spring.

“Everybody always asks you know where we at on water and we’re short,” he said. “Swan Lake reservoir is. We’ve been drafting that down. I’ve got a graph in there for your viewing pleasure. And you can see in 2018, it dipped pretty straight and continuous and then as you see that comes up, that’s when Ketchikan started their diesel burn campaign because the water was running low.”

The reservoirs at Swan Lake and Tyee Lake near Wrangell are still above levels set by the organization at the beginning of the year.

Acteson said the increased revenue for SEAPA from the Swan Lake expansion can go toward other improvements on the power system for the three communities and he expected the benefit would increase in future years. He also outlined some of the projects the wholesale power provider has been pursuing.

In other business, the assembly voted to support an application for a marijuana grow license for local business Sea Weed Farms. That application will be considered by the state’s Marijuana Control Board at a meeting in Nome, April 4th-6th. Assembly members also voted to award a contract for just under 220,000 dollars for work on the City Creek reservoir dam. That job goes to Reid Brothers Logging and Construction of Petersburg.