One of five diesel engines at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program facility in Gakona, Alaska, provided power to Copper Valley Electric Association residential customers for 24 hours in late November.
In accordance with air quality regulations, HAARP provided 10 percent of its annual power generation for residential use, totaling more than 33,000 kilowatt-hours. The antenna array did not operate during the power export, which occurred from Nov. 28-30.
The arrangement is a cost-savings partnership for both UAF and CVEA. The expense of exporting power for a few days is less than premium-priced equipment upgrades. CVEA residential members benefit from reduced winter charges when hydro-power generation is unavailable. According to CVEA chief operating officer Travis Million, this year’s power export saved CVEA residential customers about $5,600. CVEA’s fuel cost to generate power is $0.17 per kilowatt-hour.
After two years of collaboration, HAARP and CVEA threw the switches on Nov. 28 and, for the first time ever, power flowed in the opposite direction through the 1.5-megawatt connection, paying back a small amount of energy to the communities of the Copper Valley.
“The arrangement to have HAARP supply electrical energy into the CVEA grid is a great benefit for HAARP and all the other members of the CVEA co-op by reducing the amount of fuel the membership pays for the generation of electricity,” said Million. “HAARP has always been one of largest members of CVEA, and we look forward to continuing this relationship for many years to come.”