The Aurora Energy district heat system provides clean, efficient, and affordable space heating to approximately 211 customers in central Fairbanks.
The district heating system consists of more than 15 miles of supply and return piping. One segment of the system is comprised of pipes transporting steam, while other segments are designed to carry hot water. The system can be divided into four sections:
Pipes carrying steam heat serve customers located on the south side of the Chena River, spanning 1st Avenue through 9th Avenue and centered on Cushman and Barnette Streets. The original steam system was built at the same time as the original power plant in 1951-1952.
In 1983, the district heating system was expanded to add pipes carrying hot water to an area on the west side of downtown along Airport Way and Kellum Street. Several major buildings are served by this part of the system, including the Noel Wien Public Library, Lathrop High School, and Ryan Middle School. A subsequent expansion now serves an area south of Airport Way to shoppers forum and the Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center.
Hot water piping was extended to serve a large area on the east side of downtown in 1999. This provides service to buildings along Noble Street and 11th Avenue. among other areas. Major buildings served include the Westmark Hotel, the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center, and the Federal Building.
A major expansion of the hot water system in 2006 and 2013 extended service to the north side of the Chena River serving parts of the railroad industrial area, Denali State Bank, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner among others. The last major expansion of the district heat system occurred in 2006, when hot water piping was added to serve the industrial area on the north side of the Chena River. This part of the system provides space heating for several Alaska Railroad buildings, the food services center for the borough school district, and other businesses.
Up to 40 percent of the heat distributed to Aurora Energy customers is recycled residual heat from electrical generation, which offsets the need to burn additional fuel for space heating. Learn more here about the environmental benefits of district heat.
The rates for steam and hot water service are calculated differently, but both are economically competitive with alternative fuel sources. In addition, the rates for Aurora district heat service have historically been stable, as compared to the sometimes-volatile price of fuel oil in the Interior Alaska market. Another benefit of district heating is that there are virtually no maintenance costs.