HCI Energy's Hybrid Power Shelter™ Maintains Broadband Service During Remnants of Alaska Typhoon Merbok

HCI Energy, LLC
HCI Energy, LLC

Villagers of Remote Unalakleet Stay Connected with HCI's Ruggedized Power Protection

KANSAS CITY, Mo. and ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Nov. 29, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- During the worst storm to hit Western Alaska in decades, the indigenous people of the remote village of Unalakleet maintained crucial internet connectivity thanks to HCI Energy and Alaska Tribal Broadband's dedication to improving reliable Broadband on Alaskan tribal lands. During the massive September 2022 storm, the rural village of Unalakleet, located 147 miles from Nome, experienced high winds, flooding up to 11 feet, floating debris and power outages.

Just weeks before the storm, Alaska Tribal Broadband had installed a turnkey Hybrid Power Shelter™ from Kansas City-based HCI Energy. The hybrid shelter houses the broadband company's satellite telecommunications and electronics equipment combined with HCI's Zero-glitch Power Module™ (ZPM™) power backup system. The ZPM system uses highly reliable lithium-ion batteries working in conjunction with a diesel generator and power electronics to optimize power availability for the Unalakleet telecommunications radio system. The turnkey power system reduces the village’s generator runtime from 24x7 to just a few hours a day to charge the batteries. Not only does this reduce fuel consumption by more than 80 percent, it substantially minimizes routine maintenance requirements for the generator.

"During the storm, power was down, but thankfully HCI's integrated Hybrid Power Shelter was able to power the communications equipment for four days and could have kept running for several weeks," commented Harold Johnston, Founder and President of Alaska Tribal Broadband. "Being able to house our telecom gear and HCI’s critical power backup in a rugged, climate-controlled and secure structure was exactly what we needed to keep essential communications flowing for the Unalakleet villagers."

HCI's engineers built and proof-tested the portable shelter with the required power and communications equipment at their Kansas City facility before shipping it to Anchorage. From there, the shelter was placed on a barge for its weeks-long trip northward to Unalakleet.

"A great advantage of working with HCI Energy is that they understand power and telecommunications and can pre-configure and integrate the required equipment within the shelter before it ships. It arrives as a turnkey solution ready to power on. The HCI shelter arrived on site, fully equipped and ready to bring in the cabling and install our telecom equipment to connect to the OneWeb Low Earth Orbit Satellite network. This way, we don't have to source the needed equipment from multiple vendors and deal with intensive delivery delays," said Johnston. "Furthermore, we don't have to wait for it to be built and de-bugged in very remote locations. It's ready to go and we are up and operational within days, not months."

"This was our first install in Alaska, and we couldn't be more pleased with the performance of our Hybrid Power Shelter for the villagers of Unalakleet during the powerful storm," said Kurt Armbruster, CEO of HCI Energy. "Working in partnership with Alaska Tribal Broadband to build out Tribal-owned networks in remote villages in Alaska is very rewarding. Our robust and climate-controlled Hybrid Power Shelter is essentially a ruggedized Central Office."

"During the storm and the days that followed, we were impressed that the lithium-ion batteries in the shelter could carry the load for 21 hours a day, then automatically transfer to the generator, which would run for just 3 hours to recharge the battery system.”

“Getting fuel to a remote site in Alaska is a logistics challenge and costly. The HCI backup power system is efficient, saves costs, and prolongs the life of the generator," reflected Johnston.

"One of the key advantages of our Hybrid Power Shelter design is that it can be transported via truck, rail, ship or even helicopter. This makes remote locations like Unalakleet a non-issue. If disaster hits and even the most accessible location becomes inaccessible due to destruction, our hybrid backup power solution can literally be a lifesaver," added Armbruster.

The village of Unalakleet has a population of about 700 people with 200 homes that previously had very limited and expensive broadband access. The new installation is still in a test mode but will eventually enable each family in the village to have affordable broadband accounts delivering a minimum of 25Mbps access speeds.

The availability of reliable broadband to native villages throughout Alaska helps villagers close the digital divide. This effort is driven and funded by grants from the United States Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). To further ensure affordability for these types of networks, the FCC waives costly licensing fees for the radio base station equipment. In the near future, HCI Energy and Alaska Tribal Broadband will work together to showcase a training Hybrid Power Shelter in Anchorage to demonstrate to tribal leaders how they can improve access to reliable broadband communications that will bring educational, entertainment, financial and commercial connectivity to the remotest corners of the state.

For more information on how HCI's power solutions can deliver reliable energy to any site anywhere in the world, regardless of power grid accessibility, contact HCI power specialists at powered@hcienergy.com or visit them on LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

For additional information on the work Alaska Tribal Broadband is doing, contact them at info@akTribalBroadband.com or on Facebook.

About HCI Energy

HCI Energy, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., is revolutionizing the delivery of reliable, portable backup power on demand. Its self-contained Hybrid Power Shelter with renewable energy options can power communities, telecom/public safety towers, military operations, disaster relief efforts and many other mission-critical applications.

About Alaska Tribal Broadband

Alaska Tribal Broadband, a native-owned non-profit Alaska Corporation, is establishing affordable and reliable broadband services in Alaska's remotest locations. Alaska's village internet service speed and quality rank among the lowest in the country; however, that's changing. The company delivers low-latency, high-speed connectivity services in rural Alaska via powerful 5G-ready community networks connected to OneWeb satellites making affordable high-speed broadband service a reality.

Agency Contact:
PJ Jennings
Jennings & Associates Communications, Inc.
Communications, Inc.
760-431-7466 – Office
760-580-1114 – Mobile
pj@jandacommunications.com