For the first time since 1999, Golden Valley Electric Association’s Healy 2 Power Plant was fired on coal today at 2:50pm. This begins a second two-month testing phase, as the plant transitions from running on oil to coal.
The plant is currently operating on one mill, and the load is slowly being raised. The second mill will eventually be operational, and the plant will be brought up and down, from 5 to 50 megawatts, in order to test equipment and systems. Full commercial operation is expected to begin in September.
On May 28, the plant’s boiler was first fired on oil, which began the first two-month test phase. Then on June 12, a breaker was closed, and the plant began spinning its turbine and producing small amounts of power. While testing systems on oil, the maximum amount of power that could be produced was 15 MW.
Work will continue at the plant for the next two years. The new environmental controls will be housed in a new addition to the plant, which is approximately 55 percent complete and scheduled to be finished in the summer of 2017. A new 9,000-sq.-ft. warehouse is also being erected adjacent to the power plant.
The Healy 2 Power Plant operated briefly in 1999, but was idled due to safety and reliability concerns. In December 2013, GVEA purchased Healy 2 from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA). Crews have spent the past 18 months retrofitting and refurbishing the plant, which included updating systems and replacing obsolete controls.
About 90 workers are involved with the restart. Healy 2 will create an additional 30 regular, full-time time jobs in the Denali Borough.