Construction has just wrapped up on a brand new 80,000-gallon bulk Tank Farm in the community of Hughes, AK competed by the City of Hughes in partnership with the TCC Energy Program. The city of Hughes received an $817k Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) award from the state of Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs passed through from the federal Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In 2018 Hughes began receiving barged in freight from local barge company Ruby Marine at about half the cost of air freight into the community. Ruby Marine made it clear that they could only continue coming up to Hughes if the community would begin buying their fuel in bulk to help subsidize the long trip up the Koyukuk River.
The City of Hughes began looking at options to expand their existing tank farm which had only 10,000 gal of gasoline and 12,000-gal worth of diesel storage available. Small tank farms work well when aircraft that can only haul 4000 gal of fuel per plane are the only option but with the potential for barged in fuel it made sense to add tankage. When requests for assistance from the state came up empty, the city of Hughes allocated their own local funds and commissioned a team of engineers based in Fairbanks to put together a plan for the expansion. With the plans completed in 2018 the city held a number of community meetings and received positive support from the community. This allowed the city to apply for funding through the highly competitive CDBG Program in late 2018 and Hughes was fortunate to be selected for funding. Once funds were allocated the city ordered their new fuel tanks which, commissioned a group of local equipment operators to expand the tank farm pad and had a local welding contractor based in Fairbanks, Inner Creations LLC, move and re-weld the diesel and gas lines. Summer 2020 saw a flurry of activity in the small community as the tanks were delivered and moved into position in late June, had piping completed in July and finished up the electrical and control connections in August. The community is awaiting one final Facility Response Plan which is needed for the EPA and will be ready to purchase fuel and fill the tanks for the 2021 barge season. Estimates show that bringing fuel in by barge rather than air craft should save the community on average $1/gal and help bring the cost of freight brought into the community down from $1/lb. for air freight to barge rates of $.55/lb.
A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to our Judy Haymaker with the state of Alaska DCRA for guiding us through the process and to our main contractors who put in countless hours of extra time to make sure this project was a success and protect the community during a summer construction season that was made more challenging by COVID19. Thank you, Subzero Electric and Inner Creations LLC, for all of your hard work and dedication!