Humble beginings: Cooperative traces roots to 56 customers

Posted: Thursday, March 01, 2001

Homer Electric Association has come a long way since nine Homer residents organized the cooperative in 1945.

The budding utility opened in 1950, providing power from a 75-kilowatt diesel generator on Lake Street to 56 members in downtown Homer.

HEA added several generators in the next few years. In 1957, it extended a transmission line through Soldotna toward Kenai. In 1963, it opened a substation in Kasilof and agreed to buy power from the gas turbine Chugach Electric Association operated at Bernice Lake.

In 1964, HEA bought the Seldovia and Kenai electric utilities. In 1969, it built distribution lines from Seldovia to Halibut Cove. In 1975, HEA built the submarine cable from Homer to the south shore of Kachemak Bay. In 1977, it built lines from Seldovia to Port Graham and English Bay.

In 1984, HEA and Matanuska Electric Association

formed Alaska Electric Generation and Transmission, after receiving notice that Chugach Electric Association would have trouble meeting their expected future power needs. In 1985, AEG&T installed the 39 megawatt Soldotna 1 generator, and HEA signed a contract to buy 73 megawatts of power from Chugach Electric.

The $328-million Bradley Lake Hydroelectric Project, financed by the state and five Railbelt utilities, switched on in 1991 with a capacity of roughly 120 megawatts. HEA's share is roughly 14 megawatts.

This year, AEG&T expects to finish the Nikiski Cogeneration Project, moving the Soldotna 1 generator to Nikiski where Agrium will use waste heat from the generator to produce steam for its fertilizer plant.

When that is done, HEA will have a total generating capacity of 55 megawatts, including 39 megawatts from the cogeneration project, 2.5 megawatts from the diesel Seldovia power plant and 14 megawatts from Bradley Lake.

HEA now serves more than 26,000 meters in a 3,166-square-mile area.

HEA buys 90 percent of its power from Chugach Electric and buys power from other utilities to meet demand in excess of the contract with Chugach. It also sells power back into the grid.



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