Ketchikan Public Utilities is using mostly hydro-generated power now that the region has seen some rain. But, Ketchikan continues to rely on backup diesel generators for about 40 percent of its power needs.
Alaska’s First City saw between 11 and 13 inches of rain in April, which is near normal, according to KPU Electric Division Manager Andy Donato.
Donato says January precipitation also was near normal, February was extremely dry, and March was about half of normal. So, he says, Ketchikan continues to lag in its precipitation levels. On top of that, Donato says the snow pack is very low.
Generally, melting snow in the spring helps keep lakes full even if there’s not much rain. Now, Donato says, Ketchikan is relying almost completely on rainfall. The lakes are rising somewhat, he says, but not fast enough. Ketchikan is using it for hydropower almost as quickly as it comes in.
KPU last fall rented additional backup diesel generators following a dry summer. With continued dry weather throughout winter, those rented units have been running quite a bit, in addition to the main backup generators at Bailey Powerhouse.
Donato says KPU is getting close to the permitted limit on hours for its main generators, so the utility has rented additional units that went into operation last week.
The utility is encouraging customers to conserve electricity, especially during peak hours in the mornings and evenings.