Wind Energy Could Double on Fire Island by 2015

February 20, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News


Wind energy is a trend that has taken the Lower 48 by storm — and many Alaskans are hoping it will mean more renewable energy in the Last Frontier.

Chugach Electric Association board members heard comments from the public Wednesday encouraging them to purchase additional wind power on Fire Island from Cook Inlet Region, Inc. — a request which could see the 11 wind turbines currently installed on the island double to 22.

“That’s clean, long-term reliable energy for Anchorage that we really need to make sure to capitalize on while we can,” said Nick Moe, with the Alaska Center for the Environment.

According to CIRI’s Fire Island Wind Project, those 11 added turbines could provide power to more than 6,000 households in Southcentral Alaska. Chugach purchased all of the generated wind power from Fire Island, and started producing power from turbines in 2012.

“That’s long-term flat renewable energy and it could be as long as 40 years into the future and that’s huge to be able to count on that energy being produced,” Moe said.

But renewable energy comes with a price. Chugach pays CIRI $97 for each megawatt-hour of wind power, versus $65 for each megawatt-hour generated by burning natural gas.

“When we did projections for Fire Island wind, depending on what you think the price of gas is going to be without your crystal ball working, we look at seven to potentially 10 years for that can become a wash,” said Janet Reiser, chair of Chugach’s board.

Chugach board members say they have tried to be forward thinkers on renewable energy in the past. For now the board will gather data, look at analysis and discuss the first year of generating wind power on the island before determining whether to take on Phase Two of the project.

“It was a learning year for us and I think we’ve improved our ability to regulate and monitor and maximize the wind potential,” Reiser said.

It’s a project many hope will generate more support and eventually generate more power in Alaska.

“Other states have figured this out and it’s about time Alaska comes around as well,” Moe said.

Chugach has a long-term goal to get 90 percent of its energy from renewable resources and 10 percent from fossil fuel — but officials say there is no specific date for meeting that goal.

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