Contractors could resort to snowmaking to speed power line work

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- If it doesn't snow soon, contractors may be making their own fluffy white stuff so they can work on a high-voltage power line in the Interior.

Under state and federal permits, there has to be both a foot of frost and a foot of snow on the ground before heavy equipment can be moved onto the Tanana Flats. The rule protects vegetation and soils.

''We'll just keep our fingers crossed,'' said Greg Wyman, Golden Valley Electric Association's intertie project manager.

Frost won't be a problem, but snow may be scarce.

''It looks like the overall pattern wouldn't be favorable,'' said Mike Richmond with the National Weather Service, due to a stubborn high pressure ridge that's keeping snow systems out of the Interior.

''Those kinds of patterns can persist for weeks,'' he said.

GVEA has permits pending with the Department of Natural Resources to draw water from lakes and rivers to make snow and an ice road to bring heavy equipment onto the flats if needed, Wyman said.

Golden Valley is building the 230-kilovolt line from Healy to Fairbanks, nearly 100 miles altogether, to augment an existing line.

The cooperative last week formally awarded a $28 million contract to Global Power-City Electric, a joint venture of two Alaska businesses.

Work on 64 miles of the line, beginning south of the Tanana River, is slated to begin by mid-December, Wyman said.

Global Power will build the tower foundations. City Electric will build the towers. Then Global will string the towers with power lines. The job should be finished by 2003, Wyman said.

State and federal agencies prefer winter construction to protect the environment.

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