Naval Magazine Indian Island is replacing two diesel generators, which power submarines docked at the pier on the west side of the island, with shore-based electricity from Jefferson County Public Utility District. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Indian Island facility to switch to shore-based power for visiting subs

INDIAN ISLAND — Naval Magazine Indian Island is upgrading two diesel generators to shore-based power in order to save money and shrink the base’s carbon footprint.

According to a Navy press release, the project is expected to cost $4.8 million, and the new power supply is scheduled to be fully functioning by June.

The Navy has contracted with North Star construction from Seattle to replace the diesel generators’ power, which currently provides electricity to submarines at the pier on the west side of Indian Island.

The new system will use electrical systems already in place on shore to provide electricity to the submarines that moor at the pier.

“The upgrade not only helps the environment, but it results in cost savings and sustained reliability,” said Naval Magazine Indian Island’s Cmdr. Nick Vande Griend in the press release. “The project helps us support the fleet when called upon to do so.”

In order to get power from the shore to the pier, a new 12.5 kilovolt medium voltage transmission system will be needed. North Star also will be responsible for working with the Navy on maintenance work on the utility corridor and implementing new safety devices along the designated route for the power lines.

The base has been using diesel generators to provide power for visiting submarines since 2005 and requires a special permit from the Environmental Protection Agency for the emissions from the generators.

“The generators had to run as long as a submarine was at the pier. That means 24/7,” said Facilities Manager Gene King.

According to the Navy, the power for a visiting submarine demanded on average 18,000 gallons of diesel for each visit. The generators were also the largest source of pollution on Indian Island.

That amounted to roughly 100 gallons per hour, per visit with a cost of about $300 per hour in fuel.

Under the new system, the Navy will pay for power from Jefferson County Public Utility District, which is cheaper than current fuel costs.

“The power will come from Jefferson County Public Utility District, which means Indian Island will see an increase in our monthly electrical bill, providing increased revenue to the JPUD,” said King. “The return on investment, coupled with the environmental gains, makes it a win-win for all.”

The new electrical system eliminates the pollution from the generators and also means Indian Island will no longer need a special permit from the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency. The current permit allows the facility to run generators until permanent shore-based power is complete.

Using shore-based electricity is also expected to cut down on noise pollution with the removal of the generators.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.