MEA approves $4 million contract

Rates to increase 2 percent in October


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Matanuska Electric Association approved a nearly $4 million contract for engineering and design services for its planned natural gas power plant in Eklutna during a meeting Aug. 13.

The $3,814,130 contract was awarded to Kansas, City, Mo.-based Burns & McDonnell, the utility said in a press release. Burns & McDonnell is responsible for designing the plant’s power block — which house the generators and connect them to the power grid — and support buildings, including an administrative building and warehouse, MEA said.

The firm has been in business for 113 years and has experience designing projects in Alaska, MEA said.

“Approval of this contract is another major step on our path to completing the Eklutna Generation Station on time and under budget,” MEA General Manager Joe Griffith said in a statement. “They were able to provide us with a comprehensive proposal that brought the price down significantly below initial estimates. These savings and their expertise are the major driving factors for their selection.”

The initial design should be finished by the end of this year so construction can begin in spring 2013, MEA said. The 171-megawatt power plant is slated to be completed by the end of 2014, the same year when the utility’s contract with Chugach Electric Association to provide power expires.

MEA estimated the cost of the project at $250 million.

The new facility will stand adjacent to the now defunct Eklutna Power Plant, which operated until the 1940s. The Eklutna Generation Station will be located on a 70-acre parcel of land, which MEA bought from Eklutna, Inc. in 2009, on the east side of the Glenn Highway between the railroad tracks and the base of Eklutna Mountain.

MEA also approved a 1.98 percent increase in base rates at its Aug. 13 meeting. The average consumer will see a monthly increase of $1.44, MEA said.

Pending approval from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, the rate increase will take effect the first week in October, MEA said.

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