Alstom to fully modernize critical Intertie transmission line in Alaska

Source: Alstom 

Alstom Static VAR Compensators Alstom Grid announced a new contract worth approximately $7M USD to fully modernize three outdated Static VAr Compensators (SVCs)1 on the critically-important 170-mile Alaska Intertie transmission line owned by the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA), an agency of the State of Alaska. 

The Alaska Intertie provides the only link for transferring power between northern and southern utilities, generation sources and Department of Defense installations in the central or “Railbelt” part of the state. This area contains approximately 80% of Alaska’s population along with the cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks. The Intertie’s SVCs are vitally important for eliminating voltage fluctuations, increasing transfer capacity, regulating intermittent and renewable energy sources, and facilitating integrated reserve and emergency planning.

Alaska Railbelt utilities administer the SVC sites for the AEA. They include Golden Valley Electric Association, Inc., Chugach Electric Association, Inc., Matanuska Electric Association, Homer Electric Association and Anchorage Municipal Light & Power, with the latter also serving as project manager for AEA. Electric Power Systems is the project engineer.

The modernized units are scheduled to be operational by December of 2013, and will enable the Alaska Intertie to maintain and enhance delivery of its uniquely critical public benefits for decades into the future. Alstom also is being considered for a 30-year support agreement covering this new equipment.

The plan for modernization of the three SVC units includes replacement of the core power electronics and thyristors, installation of new digital controls and user interfaces, and upgrading the existing cooling systems. The overhauled power electronics in each modernized unit will feature forced air cooling technology, allowing them to operate effectively in temperatures as low as -55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is deemed an essential performance standard given Alaska’s rugged climate and the remote locations of the SVCs.

“Alaska’s electricity system cannot rely on ‘backup’ links to Canada or the lower 48 states, so reinforcing its Intertie Transmission Line with modern, durable SVCs will stabilize the grid and keep homes and businesses powered reliably well into the future,” said Michael Atkinson, Region Vice President for Alstom Grid in North America. “Alstom is proud to deliver the technology suited to this challenging project. With our Philadelphia power electronics team leading execution, and all manufacturing taking place in the U.S., this partnership with Alaska exemplifies how customers benefit from our best mix of leading global technology and local know-how.”

The existing SVC units were installed when the Alaska Intertie was built in the mid-1980s and utilize vintage technologies. Their components are increasingly vulnerable to malfunction and in many instances are no longer supported by manufacturers and unable to offer features now available through state-of- the-art technology.

Under the new contract, Alaska is requesting Alstom to reverse these SVC vulnerabilities and deficiencies so its Railbelt electric infrastructure can meet long-term energy needs. The project will be driven by Alstom’s Philadelphia-based worldwide centre of excellence in Power Electronics.

1) Static VAr Compensator (SVC) is an alternating current transmission technology that enhances power transfer capabilities and control across electrical power transmission systems. The main purpose of SVC installations is to supply the electrical network with inductive or capacitive reactive power as quickly as possible, thereby improving power quality and increasing efficiency of the transmission grid.

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