The broken power cable (Photo courtesy of Trey Acteson/Southeast Alaska Power Agency)

A hydroelectric power provider in Southeast Alaska expects to get back some of the cost of replacing a failed transmission line between Wrangell and Petersburg.

The Southeast Alaska Power Agency, or SEAPA, this summer replaced around three and a half miles of submarine cable crossing the Stikine Strait. It’s one of the power lines bringing hydroelectricity from the Tyee Lake plant near Wrangell to customers in Petersburg. It broke more than two years ago leaving Petersburg on the verge of losing its connection to that electricity.

SEAPA board member Bob Lynn told the Petersburg assembly this month that the agency’s insurance claim for the failed submarine cable was approved for around five million dollars. He said that board will have decide how to use that insurance payment at its December meeting.

“There’s three things could happen,” Lynn said. “One we could reduce the amount of bond that we’re asking for, which would make a difference in terms of long-term on the debt we were paying. The second one is we were looking at possibly buying a submarine cable, the longest length if something goes wrong using that for replacement. That’s the second possible decision. And the third one is to take that same money and to replenish our reserves because right now they’re extremely low.”

The wholesale power provider decided to bond for the more than 13 million dollars to cover the cost of the cable replacement. The board may look at increasing the cost of its hydropower to repay that debt.

Lynn also said SEAPA is investigating what major replacements it should be expecting over the next five to ten years. That’s not expected until sometime next year.

SEAPA sells electricity to Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg. It owns and operates two hydroelectric plants and the power lines connecting that system to customers.

(Editor’s note: SEAPA is an underwriter of KFSK in Petersburg where this story was produced)