Work on a $46 million project to expand the state’s largest hydroelectric facility is set to begin Thursday. The Battle Creek Project as it’s known will increase the Bradley Lake hydro facility’s production by about 10 percent.
The facility, which sits about 30 miles northeast of Homer at the head of Kachemak Bay, supplies wholesale power to six electric utilities throughout the Rail Belt.
The project will divert glacial runoff via a 1.7-mile-long pipeline to the Bradley Lake Dam. Alaska Energy Authority manages the state-owned facility. AEA spokesperson Katie Conway said the project will produce an additional 37,000 megawatt hours per year.
“If you use an average consumption of about 600 kilowatt hours per month, per household, [it] would be enough power for a community roughly the size of the City of Homer for a year,” Conway explained.
The two-year project does require a road to be built along the pipeline. Conway said crews will begin blasting away rock along the route this week. AEA expects the road to be completed in October.
“This construction season is about building the road. Next year, a water line goes in and the project is to be completed in about August of 2020,” Conway said.
The Homer, Chugach and Matanuska electric associations and the City of Seward have signed on to purchase power from the project.
During construction season, an existing road near the Bradley Lake Dam will be closed. Some bear hunters use the road to access hunting grounds in the area, but Conway said its closure shouldn’t be a major inconvenience.