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Photos: A new power plant for Southcentral Alaska

The Southcentral Power Plant, a joint effort between Chugach and Municipal Light & Power, is a new 183 Megawatt natural gas electric power generation facility. Three gas turbines and one steam turbine provide power to the railbelt system. Feb 7, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
A control panel next to the steam turbine inside the Southcentral Power Plant, a joint effort between Chugach and Municipal Light & Power. Feb 7, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
A steam turbine generates 39 megawatts using only hot exhaust from the three gas turbines inside the Southcentral Power Plant. Feb 7, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
The Southcentral Power Plant, a joint effort between Chugach and Municipal Light & Power, is a new 183 Megawatt natural gas electric power generation facility. Three gas turbines and one steam turbine provide power to the railbelt system. Feb 7, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
A single controller can monitor the entire Southcentral Power Plant operations, but two are always on duty. Chugach Electric and Municipal Light & Power jointly own the plant, and Chugach operates it. Feb 7, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
The Southcentral Power Plant, a joint effort between Chugach and Municipal Light & Power, is a new 183 Megawatt natural gas electric power generation facility. Three gas turbines and one steam turbine provide power to the railbelt system. Feb 7, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Color coordinated pipes help operators maintain the Southcentral Power Plant, a new 183 Megawatt natural gas electric power generation facility in Anchorage. Three gas turbines and one steam turbine provide power to the railbelt system. Feb 7, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Large fans cool and help condense steam for re-use in the Southcentral Power Plant. The steam is created by what would otherwise be waste heat generated by three natural gas turbines. Feb 7, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
A single 500psi natural gas pipeline powers the 183 megawatt Southcentral Power Plant, although in the future two pipes will supply the fuel. Feb 7, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Alaska Dispatch

Anchorage's newest power plant, which began full operation on Jan. 31, combines an old idea with the latest hi-tech equipment.

The old idea is co-generation, which involves funneling waste heat from natural-gas turbines to heat water that spins steam turbines. The technique has been used for years, including in Anchorage.

Remarkably, 1981 was the last year Chugach fired up a new turbine of its own. That year, a steam turbine began sucking up waste heat from seven other natural-gas turbines at the Beluga River Power Plant across the inlet west of Anchorage, said Chugach spokeswoman Sarah Wiggers.

The new steam turbine is much more efficient. It uses 800-degree heat from three natural-gas turbines to crank out 39 megawatts of steam power. The old Beluga River steam turbine can crank out a bit more, 53 megawatts, but it requires the heat of seven natural-gas turbines.

Full story: New Anchorage power plant should eventually lead to savings