Rural Power System Upgrade List

Under 3 AAC 108.100 – 130 the Alaska Energy Authority’s Rural Power Systems Upgrade (RPSU) program may provide financial and technical assistance, including construction management and training, to eligible recipients. There are approximately 170 communities throughout the state eligible to receive RPSU grant funding through the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA).

Guiding Principals

  • Transparency
  • Benefit as many communities as possible with limited state and federal resources
  • Limit consumer rate increased for needed infrastructure
  • Leverage currently available funding sources
  • Promote projects that are cost-effective and reduce diesel consumption
  • Maximize the useful life of existing infrastructure
  • Provide direct and indirect incentives for maintaining utility infrastructure

AEA evaluates several factors when prioritizing projects for RPSU funding.  The metrics used to evaluate include:

  1. The potential risk of flooding or erosion to current powerhouse locations. Data was taken from the 2021 Powerhouse Survey to assess if the powerhouse is currently located in a place that could put infrastructure at risk of major damage.
  2. The type and specifications of switchgear and distribution systems. One of the goals of the RPSU program is to bring community energy systems to modern standards, including the ability to integrate renewable energy.
  3. The reported load imbalance across the phases on generators, as reported in the 2021 Powerhouse Survey, is indicative of the state of the community’s distribution system. Greater imbalances place additional strain on a generator.
  4. The potential savings from improved generation efficiency and line loss reduction, both the impact on rate and total community impact Generation efficiency is commonly used as a metric to assess the state of the generation infrastructure, as poor physical infrastructure correlates with lower generation efficiency, as measured in kilowatt-hours of electricity produced per gallon of diesel fuel consumed.
  5. The total points from the 2021 Powerhouse Survey.
  6. The number and cost of emergencies AEA has responded to in the past five years. Although emergencies can be the result of one-time natural events, most emergencies result from infrastructure deficiencies. 

Each factor is quantified and weighted to provide a numerical scoring system. The communities ranked in the top 25 are provided at the end of this page. AEA may revise the priority list per 3 AAC 108.100 -3 AAC 108.130 based on:

    1)    Requirements of federal and state agencies or other entities providing funding;
    2)    AEA’s determination of a recipient’s readiness to proceed with the project;
    3)    The recipient’s ability to meet conditions for assistance under 3 AAC 108.120; or
    4)    Cost-effectiveness factors

RPSU Prioritized List
More than 170 communities are eligible for the RPSU program and over the years AEA has participated in upgrading more than one-third of them. Even though many communities will require assistance in the future, the list of communities presented below is limited to 25 because AEA only has the financial and technical capacity to manage a half dozen new projects each year and AEA wants to be able to make the best funding decisions based on the most up-to-date information. In the best-case scenario it will likely take another four or five years to address the communities on this list. The additional 19 communities included on the evaluation list but not yet in the current fiscal year budget will be updated as conditions change. Based on new information, some other communities may be prioritized, or some of these communities may find other funding sources to address their needs.

Top 25 Communities recommended for RPSU funding (in order of priority) as of July 2024:

  1. Red Devil
  2. Nelson Lagoon
  3. Chalkyitsik
  4. False Pass
  5. Manokotak
  6. Tuluksak
  7. Atka
  8. Birch Creek
  9. Hughes
  10. Kokhanok
  11. Newtok
  12. Saint Paul
  13. Chignik Bay
  14. Levelock
  15. Galena
  16. Saint George
  17. Chignik Lagoon
  18. Chuathbaluk
  19. Elfin Cove
  20. Karluk
  21. Pedro Bay
  22. Diomede
  23. Mertarvik
  24. Ruby
  25. Stony River

Project scale
It is not expected that each of the recommended communities will recieve a new powerhouse module; it is possible that none of the communities may receive a traditional full-scale RPSU project. Instead, an on-site assessment of the system will be performed to determine what types of upgrades are needed to cost-effectively provide the necessary level of service. Projects could range in size from tens of thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the level of technical need determined by an engineering analysis of the energy system.