Powerful Insights for Powerhouse Data Collection

Powerful Insights for Powerhouse Data Collection

ACEP employees recently toured two diesel powerhouses being assembled in Anchorage for the communities of Port Heiden and Clark’s Point. The tour was part of ACEP’s powerhouse data collection project.

The project, dubbed ORCA or Onsite Realtime Collection and Acquisition, is part of ACEP’s mission to aid communities in the development and effective integration of renewable energy. It aims to create a cheap, plug-and-play solution for remote communities to provide high-resolution powerhouse data to ACEP.

The instrumentation for this project uses a Raspberry Pi single-board computer. It is configured to automatically collect useful powerhouse data, such as individual phase voltage, amperage, frequency, etc., directly from the power meters. It uses the powerhouse’s existing communication system via ethernet at up to 15 samples per minute. The ORCA device then compresses the data and uploads it daily through its own cell modem, thus eliminating the need to rely on the community’s internet.

The two powerhouses, both under 500 kilowatts, are each being constructed inside a double-wide Conex container and are expected to be shipped to their communities by the end of August. Excellent examples of Alaska-minded engineering, the powerhouses include heat reclamation systems and redundant backups in case of emergency, and they come equipped with remote-access cameras and automatically toggling lights.

ACEP’s tour provided a great deal of valuable information about the internal workings of the powerhouses, as it is important to be as non-intrusive as possible and to make sure that the ORCA device will not interfere with normal operation of the powerhouse. The lack of good-quality, high-resolution power data has proved to be a real barrier to making informed decisions with regard to renewable energy development in rural Alaska. As this project continues, it will allow communities with previously little power data available access to high quality renewable energy analysis from ACEP.


Alaska Energy Authority’s Alan Fetters gives a tour of Port Heiden’s new powerhouse.