Aleut Corp. Sets Sights On Makushin

Thursday, December 20 2012

The Aleut Corporation is dipping its toe into the energy business in Unalaska. CEO David Gillespie says the corporation wants to start researching geothermal power at Makushin volcano.

"Our interest is to look the current state of energy in the Aleutians and in this case, Unalaska in particular, and look at things like demand forecasts and what the role of fish processing might or might not be in the project," Gillespie says.

The corporation requested $32 million from the Alaska Energy Authority to study the financial and scientific feasibility of a geothermal project. The grant was rejected earlier this month, but Gillespie says they plan to reapply during the next cycle.

Gillespie started at the Aleut Corporation in 2010 after a long career in the energy industry. He says it’s a priority of his to lower electricity costs in rural, stakeholder villages. A lot of those communities have already turned to alternative energy -- but Unalaska hasn’t.

The city has experimented with wind power and looked into Makushin, but deals with private geothermal developers have fallen through. That’s due in part to high start-up costs, which Unalaska’s energy consultant has estimated at $200 million.

But Gillespie says cost depends on the scope of the project -- and he says the city might have been basing its estimates on a project that produces more power than the one the Aleut Corporation might eventually pursue.

"We’re not anywhere close to saying that we know what the right project is, or the size, or even where it is," Gillespie says. "Our interest is to try to facilitate answering some of those questions."

For now, the Aleut Corporation is working independently of the city of Unalaska, but Gillespie says that could change if they decide that the Makushin project is viable. It wouldn’t be the first time the two have worked together on the Makushin resource. In 2009, the corporation negotiated with the city regarding royalties on behalf of the landowner, the Ounalashka Corporation, but those talks fell through.

TripleU on Friday, December 21 2012:

Mr. Peck... You gathered wind energy data up behind Westward, That is in the City limits I believe - so they take the credit - Now when it comes to the wastewater treatment plant - they blame all the residents and want them to pay for the upgrade due to their violations - In this case the city does not want to take the credit. Happy Holidays to you also

Richard Peck on Friday, December 21 2012:

Good morning Lauren-

It was exciting to learn that the city has experimented with wind energy in Unalaska! I would appreciate if you could send me a copy of the time and location of the experiment that the city conducted.
Happy Holidays-Dick

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