The Green Lake Dam, as seen in a 2008 file photo. As water levels begin to drop, the city has renewed its call for Sitkans to conserve electricity. (File photo)

The Green Lake Dam, as seen in a 2008 file photo. The city has shut down the plant to repair a hydraulic ram, which failed during a planned inspection. (File photo)

The Green Lake Hydro plant was shut down late Monday night (10-17-16) after a hydraulic ram failed. The 35-year-old plant is a key piece of infrastructure for Sitka’s electrical needs and is in need of renovation.

The ram – which is essentially a water-powered pump – failed while the Green Lake Tunnel was being drained for a planned inspection. This caused a 1 gallon leak of hydraulic fluid. The tunnel inspection was cancelled and the Electric Department has opted to shut down the plant in order to focus on a repair.

In an e-mail yesterday (10-19-16), Utility Director Bryan Bertacchi said, “Although we do not want to see equipment fail, it is far better to identify these problems in a safe way and get them repaired to maintain safe and reliable operations for our customers.”

The 16.5 MW (megawatt) plant works in tandem with the Blue Lake Power plant to provide hydropower to Sitka. At the current temperatures, Blue Lake can provide Sitka all of its energy needs. But, should the weather get cold, the Department will run diesel machines for the peak load periods of the day, which costs $50,000 a week. Bertacchi wants to get the Green Lake plant back in gear, adding, “We will likely get this repaired before the weather gets too cold.”

The Green Lake Power plant is 35-years-old and in serious need of an overhaul. In their 10-year-plan, the Electric Department plans to dedicate $4.8 million from their capital reserves to fix the plant as needed.  See details of that plan here: Memo Electric Department 10 Year Capital Plan

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, KCAW incorrectly stated that $4.8 million was coming from the City of Sitka to determine the extent of Green Lake’s repair. In fact, the the money will come from the Electric Department’s already existing working capital fund and will be used to pay for any repair required.

The Electric Department has also planned an outage on Saturday (10-22-16) from 8 AM through 2 PM for customers on Granite Creek Road. The outage is to allow the Electric Department to replace electric poles and is unrelated to the issues at Greek Lake. For additional information please contact the Electric Department at 747-4000.