Cordova Electric Cooperative (CEC) is the sole provider of electric energy to the remote, coastal community of Cordova, Alaska.
In 1978, the people of Cordova organized to form a rural electric cooperative that would meet their need for a more stable electrical structure.
Isolated and efficient
Located 117 east of Anchorage by air, the community of Cordova has a year-round population of approximately 2,300 residents. However, this number nearly doubles each summer as seasonal workers flood the community for commercial fishing and related businesses.
Cordova is flanked on three sides by the breathtaking backdrops of the Chugach and Wrangell-Saint Elias Mountain Ranges to the north, the Prince William Sound to the west, the Copper River Delta to the east and the Gulf of Alaska, the source of high quality, fresh Alaskan Seafood, which is the present cornerstone of Cordova’s economy, to the south.
No highways connect Cordova to other communities. And no transmission lines connect it’s power grid to a larger system. As a “micro grid” or “island” electric company, CEC owns and operates all power production and distribution facilities for the whole community.
Sustainability is crucial
The development of low-impact hydroelectric projects, as well as other efficiency and conservation initiatives, has positioned CEC to produce as much as 80 percent of the community’s electricity with renewable energy projects.
“Hydroelectricity is a very reliable source of energy because the fuel source is assured. We average 148 inches of annual rainfall in Cordova, so that is our best opportunity for clean, sustainable, renewable power,” said Clay Koplin, who serves as CEO of CEC.
CEC utilizes three generating plants. The Humpback Creek hydroelectric plant, located seven miles north of Cordova, can generate up to 1.25 megawatts. The Power Creek hydroelectric plant, 7 miles east of town, has a total installed generating capacity of 6.0 megawatts. And the Orca Power Plant, CEC’s only diesel generation facility, can produce up to 10.8 megawatts.
CEC is conscious of constantly evaluates new technologies and the opportunities they provide. In this vein, CEC recently retrofitted the entire community with energy-efficient, fuel-saving LED street lighting. CEC also placed the entire electrical system underground for improved reliability, even during the most treacherous wind, snow and ice storms.
“Stewardship as a way of life for Cordova. We love the community around us, the environment around us, so we want to take care of it,” Clay said.
Thanks to support from CoBank, CEC continues to provide Cordova with sustainable, community-owned energy.