A Cogeneration Facility
The Aurora Energy power plant functions as a “cogeneration” facility that produces electricity and heat that is distributed through an underground district heating system. The plant’s boiler units utilize about 210,000 tons of coal per year, all of which is purchased from Usibelli Coal Mine near Healy.
According to data from GVEA, 34 percent of the utility’s power comes from coal. This includes power received from Aurora, as well as two-coal fired power plants in Healy that are owned and operated by GVEA.
GVEA generates or purchases electricity from a variety of fuel sources. Although energy costs can change over time, coal has generally provided GVEA with the most economical source of electricity.
The following is a comparison of GVEA’s cost per kWh (kilowatt hour) in 2013 for electricity from various sources:
The affordability of coal was documented in a 2013 study by the McDowell Group. The study estimated that if energy from Aurora and several other coal-fired power plants was not available, electricity costs in Interior Alaska would rise by as much as 25 percent, and overall energy costs for Fairbanks businesses and homeowners could increase as much as $200 million annually, depending on the type of alternative fuel used.