The first of two tug and barge sets built to help an Alaska co-op control its fuel cost is now hauling fuel and other supplies through a far-flung service territory.
Anchorage-based Alaska Village Electric Cooperative invested $12 million in the project, which is expected to increase competition in western Alaska’s fuel delivery market.
“We’ve seen drastic increases in energy costs since 2007,” said Meera Kohler, president and CEO of the co-op. AVEC buys more than 5 million gallons of diesel fuel each year to operate generation facilities in 54 villages.
The co-op will own the vessels and it has a five-year contract with Vitus Marine, LLC, a company managed by experienced mariners, to haul fuel and freight to coastal and riverfront communities.
“Only one of the villages we serve is accessible by road,” said Kohler. “Our linemen and mechanics have to fly to and between villages, but most of our equipment and fuel has to be shipped in by boat or barge.”