Cooper Lake generator fails

Posted: Monday, August 27, 2001

KENAI (AP) -- One of two newly rebuilt generators at Chugach Electric Association's Cooper Lake hydroelectric project has been shut down after a metal cooling fin broke and damaged the copper windings on the generator.

Chugach Electric Association restarted the rebuilt turbines this spring, but one has been out of commission since July 30, when the cooling fin broke, said Phil Steyer of the utility.

Chugach overhauled the hydroelectric plant near Cooper Landing last winter. The project was expected to cost roughly $6 million, but the discovery of PCB contamination and the resulting environmental work pushed the cost to about $10 million.

During the overhaul, workers replaced 1950s-era controls and made improvements to increase the plant's capacity 13 percent from 17.2 megawatts to 19.4 megawatts. The plant's two generators were shipped to a General Electric facility in Utah to be rewound.

It's not clear whether the generator will have to be rewound or when Chugach will be able to restart the second turbine, Steyer said. It's also not clear whether Chugach will foot the bill for repairs.

''This isn't a part that was replaced (in the overhaul), but there is a question of whether in the course of the work, someone should have inspected these parts,'' he said.

There also is a question of whether the cooling fin could have been damaged during the overhaul.

The Cooper Lake plant, licensed in 1957 and commissioned in 1960, now produces only a small fraction of Chugach Electric's generating capacity, which totals more than 500 megawatts.

Most of Chugach's power, which is sold along the Railbelt corridor, comes from natural gas-fired turbines at the Beluga Power Plant near Tyonek.

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