Rural Power System Upgrade

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RPSU Program Fact Sheet
RPSU Project Status

Electricity provides for lighting, communications, heat and power necessary to operate infrastructure that supports all other elements needed in any community to permit safe and healthy living conditions.  In rural communities throughout Alaska, electricity is generated by a small local “system” (generation and distribution) using diesel fuel at a cost that is three to five times higher than that in urban parts of the state.  Of 200 rural communities, approximately half are served by cooperatives or another form of utility that performs under a well-established organization. Others are served by very small entities, many which experience technical and administrative problems due to lack of economies of scale and/or lack of specialized skills in the community.  Funding is provided for upgrades as follows:

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Powerhouse and Electrical Distribution Upgrades

Upgrades may include efficiency improvements, powerhouse upgrades or replacements, line assessments, lines to new customers, demand-side improvements and repairs to generation and distribution systems. System upgrades to be funded may be identified through a variety of ways, including via technical assistance, advanced by the local community or directed by the Legislature.  Examples of programmatic efforts include:

Rebuilding or replacement of worn-out diesel generator units;  
Rebuilding or replacement of old and hazardous distribution systems;
Construction of new power generation systems that meet State and Federal codes
Inclusion of heat recovery systems, where possible, in new powerhouses and
Force account labor and technical assistance to rural communities through AEA personnel and/or contractors with experience in rural construction.


AEA Air Quality Compliance Study - The Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) contracted through a competitive bid process with Gray Stassel Engineering, Inc. to prepare an  Air Quality Compliance study. The purpose of this Study is to compile and evaluate EPA air quality regulations that apply to diesel engines in stationary prime power applications in remote areas of Alaska. Diesel generation provides nearly 90% of all electricity in rural Alaska. Due to the immensity and complexity of EPA air quality rules, this Study focused primarily on diesel engines less than 800 horse power (550 kW electric prime power), located in rural Alaska utilities that consume less than 330,900-gallons of diesel/year. This classification applies to more than 500 prime power diesel gensets located in over 170 communities located in remote areas of Alaska.


The study effort consisted of three tasks:

  • review current EPA air quality regulations
  • obtain available information on final Tier 4 engines in prime power applications
  • prepare a report that summarizes the information obtained and provide a matrix of pertinent regulations and how they apply to engines in prime power applications


The study can provide assistance with selecting a replacement, repowering or rebuilding a diesel engine on a prime power generator set. It also provides regulatory guidance on the type diesel fuel required and the operation and maintenance required by regulation.

For more information contact

Timothy Sandstrom, RPSU Project Manager
Tel: 907-771-3082
Fax: 907-771-3044