Under 3 AAC 108.200 – 240, the Alaska Energy Authority’s Circuit Rider program provides eligible utilities with technical assistance to improve the efficiency, safety, and reliability of their energy infrastructure and helps reduce the risk and severity of emergency conditions.
AEA staff instruct the rural utility operators and managers in the proper operations and maintenance of their generation and distribution infrastructure. Generation includes conventional diesel and alternative sources like hydro and wind. Technical staff can help with diagnosing and troubleshooting through real time remote monitoring, or provide onsite training, technical consultation, assistance and minor repairs. The program does not replace the utility’s necessary operations and maintenance budget or provide funding for major repairs or reconstruction of utility systems.
AEA evaluates the utilities needs under the Circuit Rider program. The Rural Assistance manager and Circuit Rider technician review the needs and requests and in coordination with other information respond accordingly.
This program is available for rural Alaska communities with a population between 20 and 2,000. The utility’s ability to pay for assistance from other sources is considered. The utilities are encouraged to have power plant operators who have: knowledge of the local power system; are able to communicate effectively; are available during onsite visits; and the ability to maintain written performance logs.
The utility manager is urged to send their operator(s) to both the Power Plant Operator and Bulk Fuel Operator training classes offered by AEA at AVTEC in Seward Alaska. More information about AEA training programs can be found on the Training Programs web pages.
To reduce the programs travel expenses the utilities are encouraged to use email, phone calls and have a remotely accessible Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.
Circuit rider assistance may include one or more visits to the community whose utility is selected to receive assistance or it may be limited to assistance provided telephonically or by electronic mail. The circuit rider assistance to be provided will be determined based on the authority's assessment, in consultation with the utility, of the utility's major needs and the authority's ability to provide assistance for those needs. Assistance that the authority may provide includes review of and recommendations to improve the system condition and system operations and maintenance, training utility personnel, and performing, or assisting utility personnel in their performance of, minor maintenance and repairs.
AEA’s Circuit Rider program is closely related to the Electrical Emergency Assistance program.
For an up-to-date snapshot of the AEA’s Circuit Rider program, please see our downloadable Factsheet.
Circuit Rider Maintenance Program Application
There are approximately 130 utilities eligible for Circuit Rider assistance. Of those, many are highly functional and do not request or demonstrate a need for assistance. Others may require and request assistance multiple times through the year. Circuit Rider provides both telephonic and local on-site assistance. The program is making progress on the goal to make contact with every eligible utility also uses the opportunity provided by on-site Circuit Rider assistance to conduct itinerant training relevant to the utility’s own specific infrastructure.