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State-of-the-Art Generation Plant Powers Alaska

When the Matanuska Electric Association (MEA) decided to move away from its practice of purchasing power with the idea of generating their own electricity they turned to Stanley Consultants to advise them as Owner's engineer. This new plant, the Eklutna Generation Station, adds up to 170 MW of power to the Railbelt transmission system that connects Fairbanks to Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula. The 100,000 homes connected consume nearly 80% of Alaska's power supply. As a new generation source for the Railbelt, the plant needed state-of-the-art technology to efficiently respond to load fluctuations, provide stabilizing inertia to the transmission system and operate efficiently in the changing weather conditions of Alaska.

MEA's solution, add 10 new Wärtsilä 17MW dual-fuel reciprocating engine generators that efficiently generate electricity, whether load demand is 150 megawatts during the winter; or 50 megawatts in the summer. To accomplish this, the engine generator control systems are designed to automatically monitor power needs and, without interruption, adjust engine and generator output to maintain optimum efficiency. Although the reciprocating engines operate primarily on natural gas, if an interruption to the gas supply occurs, the engine control system is designed to recognize the interruption in the fuel supply and immediately switch to a light fuel oil supply provided by storage tanks located at the plant site. The plant is also designed to withstand the maximum earthquake expected for the site and to remain operational after such an event. This ensures MEA that even in the most extreme conditions; this plant will stay online and continue to supply power to the transmission system.