Chitina Electric, inc. History

1910 to 1938
During the Kennecott Mining Company and Copper River Railroad copper ore mining era; Chitina was transformed into a railway town.  From 1910 to 1938 the town served as a way station; it became the hub for mining and trading in the Wrangell Mountains and the Chitina Valley.  At one point, Chitina was home at differing periods to 400-600 people.  It had everything a person needed: hotels, blacksmith shops, theaters, saloons, clinics, general stores and jails.  The railways brought the first tourists into the region.  Visitors would take the train to Chitina and the hop aboard the Orr Company’s horse drawn stage, or a touring car to journey to Fairbanks.  Otto A. (O.A.) Nelson a teacher from Missouri came to Alaska to take up railroading in 1908 later becoming, a leading resident of Chitina.  O.A. built and owned many structures in Chitina to include a unique hydroelectric plant to power the town.

1920 to 1953
Throughout the 1920’s to 1953 the Town of Chitina acquired its Generated Electrical Power from an unique yet old-fashioned Hydroelectric Power plant located on the bank of the Copper River and getting the water from Trout Lake.  In 1953 the power plant burned down and with a dwindling population due to the Railroad closing down in 1938 and not having any financial backing the prior utility company’s owner O.A. Nelson decided it was impractical to reconstruct a new plant.  As such, the town and village of Chitina were without an electrical energy supplier.  For those who could come up with the money to purchase the alternative electrical energy power; town residents, remaining merchants and village members purchased individually owned small generators.  Needless to say, in several circumstances the town and tribal members had no source of electrical power at all due to the extraordinary cost of buying a generator and maintenance cost to keep them operational.

1981 to 2012
CNC was formed in 1971 through Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
In 1981 Chitina Native Corporation Board of Directors approved the creation of its first subsidiary Chitina Electric Inc. and provided it with a $50,000 capital investment.  Chitina Electric’s Inc.’s first undertaking was to purchase the assets of the Chitina Power Company from its proprietor.  Chitina Electric Inc.’s second course of action was to construct its first power house and repair the power lines.  The power house contained 2 fossil fuel generators a 30Kw and 50Kw which came on line in 1982 supplying electricity to 15 consumers. In 1984 the 30kw generator had to be replaced with another 50kw Gen. Set. In 1986, Chitina Electric Inc. was acknowledged by the State of Alaska and was granted with an Alaska Public Utilities Commission Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to operate and provide public electric utility services.  Also in 1986 Chitina Electric Inc. added its 3rd generator a 75 Kw to meet consumer demand as the town of Chitna population began to increase.

Chitina Electric Inc. and Hydroelectric - Diesel Intergration Power
In 1986, Chitina Electric Inc. because of the rising cost of fuel and the added stress of the electrical output load of the generators, Chitina Electric Inc. commenced with the construction of a 50Kw hydroelectric power house.  The power house was situated on the bank of the Copper River and was supplied by the water of Chitina’s Town Lake. The project involved the blasting of 240 feet of bedrock to accomplish the required water flow to sustain the necessary amount of water required to run the hydroelectric power house.  In the spring of 1987 the hydroelectric plant was completed and came on line which aided in removing the strain placed upon the diesel generator.  Ten years later in 1997 the State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game restricted the usage of water being drawn out of Town Lake thus making the hydroelectric plant impossible to operate and the hydroelectric power house became dormant and in 1998 the limited low kilowatt power out-put, the power house was abandoned consequently leaving Chitina Electric Inc. depended on its fossil fueled plant once more.

Chitina Electric Inc.’s Modifications
To sustain the above-mentioned output power needs in 1992 Chitina Electric Inc. upgraded its 50Kw generator to a 67Kw generator and purchased a 100kw Gen. Set and expanded the Powerhouse to accompany four Generators. Five years later in 1997 Chitina Electric Inc.’s retired the very old and under capacity  50Kw generator with one 90Kw to accompany the existing 75Kw.  Additionally in 1997, Chitina Electric Inc. upgraded its distribution line system and standardized its out-of-date 2400 Volt Delta System with the 7200 Volt Y system.  This procedure involved replacing approximately (35) 40ft power poles and 20 plus transformers.  
Simultaneously Chitina Electric Inc. enhanced its distribution system area by approximately 1 mile as the town population was yet growing.  In 2000 Chitina substituted its exhausted 75Kw generator with a 135Kw generator.  At the present, the power house is functional.  The 90Kw and the 135Kw is used as a backup source of energy production when the new power plant at 5 mile may have a power failure or else calls for wide-ranging maintenance.

2004 to Present
By 2004 the town and village of Chitina population grew to 126 residents since 1981. Together with the 126 residents and 30 business Chitina is progressing.  The upsurge in population is largely due to a 16 multi-family housing development project, a renewed interest in recreational and year round single family housing and; coupled with the rise in tourism at the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park the United States largest National Park.  The Department of Interior and National Park Service had taken over the historic Kennecott Copper Mine and had begun restoration of some its historic buildings and the mine itself.  Once more Chitina Electric Inc. demand for electric power output increased and with ever-increasing price of fuel cost combined with the strain being placed on the generators.  Chitina Electric Inc. launched its strategic planning process to adapt to the progress and needs of additional electric consumers.  In 2005 Electric Inc. teamed up with Alaska Energy Authority and Alaska’s Denali Commission to investigate and calculate the output usage load requirements and fuel consumption essential to accommodate the population growth.  Moreover with the ever-increasing price of fuel cost one of the motivating considerations was to lower the cost of delivering electricity to the town’s resident, merchants, state and governmental agencies and tribal members of Chitina.  In 2006 the analysis was concluded, funding was pursued and attained for the construction of a new state of art energy efficient electrical power generation plant.  In 2007; exact construction design, construction costs, location evaluations and economic analysis were finalized.  In 2008 CEI began construction of its 2.3 million dollar new power plant that added 4 extra miles to the power distribution line system to service new costumers.  The development of the power distribution line system involved; the clearing many miles of concentrated forested areas, boring and blasting of mountainous bedrock, the crossing of three lakes and; putting in place power poles to tie in to the existing power distribution line system.  In fall of 2010 the new state of art energy efficient electrical power generation plant came on line supplying power to the town and village of Chitina.

2008 to Present Chitina Electric Inc. Hydroelectric - Diesel Integration Power
Ever since 1981 with ever-increasing price of fuel cost still rising, Chitina Electric Inc. goal to offset it’s fossil fuel cost as well as lower its utility rates to its consumer has been ongoing.  In 2008 Chitina Electric Inc. again teamed up with Alaska Energy Authority to research the feasibility of hydroelectric plant at Five-mile Creek adjacent to the newly constructed power generation plant.  In the summer of 2009 site visits were conducted to consider potential intake sites.  In the summer of 2011 engineers and surveyors performed site visits to collect baseline survey data for the project.  Also at that point biologists performed site visits to collect fish habitat data along Five-mile Creek.  Later on in the fall of 2011, engineers inspected the proposed intake site performed a geo hazard/geotechnical evaluations of the penstock and assessed potential turbine house and trailrace configurations.  In January of 2012, CRW Engineering Group released its Conceptual Design Study Report for the Five-mile Creek Hydroelectric Project.  At this point in time, Chitina Electric Inc. is enthusiastically seeking supplemental financial support to advance their efforts of creating a hydroelectric plant.