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

November 30, 2022


Kansas City

United States

During the worst storm to hit Western Alaska in decades, the indigenous people of the remote village of Unalakleet had crucial internet connectivity thanks to HCI Energy and Alaska Tribal Broadband's dedication to improving reliable Broadband. 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 with lithium-ion batteries. The shelter also contains a diesel generator with 100-gallon fuel tanks, electronic systems to power the Unalakleet radio system and intuitive remote control and analytics.

"During the storm, power was down, but thankfully HCI's integrated Hybrid Power Shelter was able to immediately 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 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. 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 Central Office. Due to its smart design, the shelter can be configured with the necessary telecom gear with fully monitored power equipment and outfitted with an attached pole to support a 50-foot radio antenna if needed."

"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. The cycle would repeat until commercial power became available.”

“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.

The ISO-compliant Hybrid Power Shelter also includes climate controls and user equipment racks. Optional solar panels and a wind turbine can be integrated into the shelter for off-grid applications to maximize available renewable energy.

At the heart of the Hybrid Power Shelter is HCI's ZPM 1kW to 100kW power system equipped with long-life 200 Ah lithium-ion batteries, remote real-time battery monitoring and incoming and outgoing power distribution. Other configurations are available depending on specific power needs. "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 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," stated Armbruster.

Very soon, HCI Energy and Alaska Tribal Broadband will work together to showcase a training Hybrid Power Shelter in Anchorage to help educate tribal leaders on how they can improve access to reliable broadband communications.

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 or visit them on LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

For additional information on the work Alaska Tribal Broadband is doing, contact them at 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.

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