'How Is This Going To Work?:' City Manager Says Unalaska Won't Rush Into Geothermal Energy Contract

Feb 13, 2020

OC/Chena Power plans to develop geothermal energy at Makushin Volcano. The company has asked the City of Unalaska to sign a 30-year power purchase agreement.
Credit Courtesy Malcolm Herstand / Alaska Volcano Observatory

The City of Unalaska isn't rushing into a geothermal energy agreement with OC/Chena Power.

While the private company had asked local officials to sign a 30-year power deal by the end of the month, City Manager Erin Reinders said they won't make a decision until they have more information.

"I think some of these larger concepts — how is this going to work? — need to be discussed before we really dig in to the very specific details of a power purchase agreement," said Reinders. 

OC/Chena Power has said it plans to develop geothermal energy at Makushin Volcano to reduce the city's diesel consumption, as well as improve utility costs for residents and businesses.

But earlier this month, both officials and community members raised a number of concerns about cost and logistics. That's why company officials are now planning to make a formal presentation at the City Council's next meeting.

"They will be able to answer a lot of the questions that are still percolating in some of our minds — or at least be able to take notes on some of the concerns that people have," said Reinders. "It will allow us to have a more informed discussion on developing a power purchase agreement and ultimately making a decision."

Right now, the city doesn't have a set timeline for deciding whether to sign a deal with OC/Chena Power, which was formed by Unalaska's Ounalashka Corporation and the Fairbanks-based Chena Power.

The company is scheduled to present to the City Council on Feb. 25 at City Hall.