Circuit Rider

Under 3 AAC 108.200 – 240, the Alaska Energy Authority’s (AEA) Circuit Rider program provides eligible utilities with technical assistance to improve the efficiency, safety, and reliability of their energy infrastructure and helps reduce the risk and severity of emergency conditions.

AEA staff instruct the rural utility operators and managers in the proper operations and maintenance of their generation and distribution infrastructure. Generation includes conventional diesel and alternative sources like hydro and wind. Technical staff can help with diagnosing and troubleshooting through real-time remote monitoring or provide onsite training, technical consultation, assistance, and minor repairs. The program does not replace the utility’s necessary operations and maintenance budget or provide funding for major repairs or reconstruction of utility systems.

AEA evaluates the utility needs under the Circuit Rider program. The Rural Assistance manager and Circuit Rider technician review the needs and requests and in coordination with other information respond accordingly.

This program is available for rural Alaska communities with a population between 20 and 2,000. The utility’s ability to pay for assistance from other sources is considered. The utilities are encouraged to have power plant operators who have: knowledge of the local power system; are able to communicate effectively; are available during onsite visits; and have the ability to maintain written performance logs.

The utility manager is urged to send their operator(s) to both the Power Plant Operator and Bulk Fuel Operator training classes offered by AEA at AVTEC in Seward Alaska. More information about AEA training programs can be found on the Training & Utility Assistance pages.

To reduce the program's travel expenses the utilities are encouraged to use email, and phone calls and have a remotely accessible Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.

Circuit rider assistance may include one or more visits to the community whose utility is selected to receive assistance or it may be limited to assistance provided telephonically or by electronic mail. The circuit rider assistance to be provided will be determined based on the authority's assessment, in consultation with the utility, of the utility's major needs and the authority's ability to provide assistance for those needs. The assistance that AEA may provide includes a review of and recommendations to improve the system condition and system operations and maintenance, training utility personnel, and performing, or assisting utility personnel in their performance of, minor maintenance and repairs.

AEA’s Circuit Rider program is closely related to the Electrical Emergency Assistance program.

For an up-to-date snapshot of the AEA’s Circuit Rider program, please see our downloadable Factsheet.

Circuit Rider Assistance Requirements

▪ Demonstrated need for assistance with operations maintenance and utility training
▪ Communities with a population of less than 2,000
▪ Power plant operator and/or utility staff must be available for training and consultation during visit
▪ Power plant operators must maintain written performance logs between visits
▪ Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems must be available

Circuit Rider Application and Application Instructions

Circuit Rider Maintenance Program Application

There are approximately 130 utilities eligible for Circuit Rider assistance. Of those, many are highly functional and do not request or demonstrate a need for assistance. Others may require and request assistance multiple times throughout the year. Circuit Rider provides both telephonic and local on-site assistance. The program is making progress on the goal to make contact with every eligible utility and also uses the opportunity provided by on-site Circuit Rider assistance to conduct itinerant training relevant to the utility’s own specific infrastructure.

For more information please contact AEA at (907) 771-3000 or or visit our contact page.

Contractor and Vendor Resources

The following two links provide lists of known powerline distribution contractors and diesel and switchgear vendors who may work on rural powerhouse equipment. These lists are in alphabetical order and AEA does not vouch or recommend any specific vendor or contractor. If you are a vendor or contractor and would like to be added to one or both of the following lists, please contact AEA.

List of Contractors for Rural Alaska Utility Distribution 01/31/2024 (PDF)
List of Rural Alaska Powerhouse Diesel and Switchgear Vendors - July 30, 2021 (PDF)