Aurora Basin electricity shut down for repairs

Harbor power to be fully restored by Oct. 5

Posted: Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The electrical system at the northern half of Aurora Basin Harbor will be shut down for up to two months, as the Docks and Harbors Department replaces the harbor's transformers and electrical cables.

Boaters from floats G to N lost power on Monday. The electricity will be back around Aug. 20. The power for floats A to F will be turned off around Aug. 1 and will be turned back on Oct. 5.

The Docks and Harbors Department estimates about 350 boaters will be affected by the temporary shutdown. Boaters can call the harbormaster's office at 586-5255 to move to another slip during construction.

When the power is resumed, a new flat, non-metered rate will go into effect. The money will be used to replace the cables and pedestals on the floats in the next few years, city Port Director John Stone said.

"We are doing this work in the summertime to ensure that the power is turned on by the time the temperatures drop in the late fall," Stone said. "It's impossible for us to continue providing electricity while the construction is being done."

Port Engineer Mike Krieber said replacing Aurora Harbor's electrical system is one of the department's top priorities, because the cables are rusting and dangerous.

"If you touch the cables, they literally fall apart," Krieber said.

Aurora Harbor is Juneau's largest downtown district harbor and includes a 19-acre basin located just north of Harris Harbor and south of the Yacht Club. Its power system was installed in the late 1960s. Although the system was partially renovated in 1981 to provide more capacity and pedestals, the existing circuit cables were never replaced.

"The cable is routed out of the conduit prior to reaching the main panel, which is not compliant with the code," according to a condition assessment report by PND Consulting Engineers. "The ground rods were improperly installed, causing some of the rods to be pushed into the main terminals at low tides. This causes faults in the transformer and a major life safety hazard."

In addition to the electrical system, the Docks and Harbors Department will replace the gangways. According to the same report by PND Consulting Engineers, the current gangways are not lubricated, causing them to move the entire floats and abrade the piles at tidal changes.

"The main reason why we change them is to make it longer so the gangways are not as steep," Krieber said.

The whole reconstruction project of Aurora Harbor will cost $1.6 million.

Many users of Aurora Harbor said despite the inconvenience, they think upgrading the harbor's electrical system is important.

"It's nice that they are doing this, but I don't like the flat rate. It's not equitable," said Ron Crenshaw, who has moored his boat, Tokeen, at Aurora for three years. His boat will stay at Douglas Harbor during the construction. "I'd rather them raise the moorage fee because it is based on usage."

His wife, Molly, said she doesn't mind the flat rate. "We like Aurora Harbor. It is one of the cheapest harbors in Alaska," she said. "The city is going to need the money for its reconstruction."

• I-Chun Che can be reached at

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