Specialist loadbank manufacturer and rental company Crestchic provided the Southeast Alaska Power Agency (SEAPA) with a containerized 5MW capacity loadbank for a project that expanded the reservoir at the 22MW Swan Lake hydro project.

The £10 million Swan Lake expansion project increased active water storage at the project by 25%. Crestchic's loadbank was used to safeguard the project by preventing spillage onto the construction site.

SEAPA is a not-for-profit joint agency of the state of Alaska that supplies utility wholesale power. The Swan Lake plant is part of an isolated electrical system connecting the communities of Petersburg, Wrangell, and Ketchikan, in Alaska. When the organisation planned to expand the plant's spillway, from about 86,000 acre-feet to 111,800 acre-feet, it identified the need to rent a loadbank to ensure electrical load was available during the project to control water levels. Normally, during times of high inflows and low electrical loads, excess water, an average of 35,000 acre-feet, is released over the spillway. During construction, when the spillway would be out of use, water levels needed to be managed to avoid spill. The loadbank was to be used to ensure that at least one, and usually two, generating units could consume water and prevent spill.

The area receives a high level of rainfall, an average of 153 inches per year, falling more heavily in autumn and winter. Due to the wet climate, timing was of particular importance for this project to avoid these peak months. The loadbank was needed from May to October, and it was imperative the project was completed on time. This meant logistics, installation and commissioning was key to ensuring this projects success.

The organisation sent out a request for a containerised 5MW loadbank that could operate continuously up to the required capacity outdoors in an often damp and rainy atmosphere. Crestchic was selected out of three bids. The containerised loadbank provided by Crestchic combats some of the challenges that can arise working in these conditions. Crestchic's rain resistant loadbanks are designed with the transformer inside to step down the voltage to a safe level. Traditionally, most resistors cannot work in wet conditions and can require elaborate protection, which can be costly.

Crestchic worked with the organisation to ensure the loadbank was delivered to the remote location on schedule and supported onsite with the installation and commissioning. The company also provided training for SEAPA employees and was on hand to support the team for the duration of the project.

"Crestchic has been vital in the success of this project,” said Trey Acteson, CEO of SEAPA. “They not only delivered a product that was suitable to the application, but also went above and beyond to ensure the equipment was successfully installed and commissioned; and workers onsite where fully trained in its operation. Without their expert knowledge and experience, this project simply would not have been completed on time."