Three years ago, Dennis Prendeville was headed out the door for a meeting with Chugach Electric, when he noticed a heating bill on his desk. The bill, from Enstar, the local natural gas utility, was for one month of gas heating for his 56,000-square-foot H2Oasis water park. The charge? $25,000.
“I threw (the bill) down on the table and said 'no more',” said Prendeville, the CEO and president of the Alaska Waterpark Company, which owns and operates H2Oasis, Alaska's only indoor water park.
The meeting with Chugach was spurred by Prendeville's ongoing efforts to install a series of 65- and 60-kilowatt Capstone MicroTurbine dual heat and power generators. The turbines, essentially jet-engines that can run off of most fuel sources, are fairly rare in Alaska. There are just 50 to 80 of them in the state according to Greg Porter, president of Chenega Energy, LLC, the only authorized Capstone microturbine distributor in Alaska, with their use mostly limited to oil-and-gas companies and military operations.
Prendeville's is one of the largest microturbine operations in the state and the first to come online into the Chugach Electric Association grid. While the park does purchase some power for the Southcentral utility, most comes from the turbines.