Wind Plant Near Anchorage On Track

A proposed wind project within view of Anchorage, Alaska, appears to be on course for construction after state regulators issued an order allowing the local power cooperative to pass development costs along to ratepayers. The Chugach Electric Association said it would move ahead quickly to make the 17.6-megawatt (MW) capacity Fire Island wind power plant a reality.

“A lot remains to be done in a short time,” association chair Janet Reiser said. “Chugach must comply with the order. Fire Island Wind must secure financing, construct the wind farm and transmission line and be producing power by the end of 2012. Grant and other agreements need to be completed.”

wind power, Alaska, Fire Island Wind

image via Fire Island Wind

Fire Island is three miles west off Anchorage’s Point Campbell – 9 miles from downtown – in Cook Inlet. The plan being pursued by a subsidiary of the native corporation CIRI is to put 11 1.6-MW GE turbines on the island that would produce about 48,500 megawatt-hours of electricity annually. The power would come to the mainland through a double-circuit 34.5 kilovolt submarine transmission line. The developer says the plant will power the equivalent of about 6,000 Alaska households.

wind power, Alaska, Fire Island Wind

image via Fire Island Wind

The Chugach Electric Association said it now generates about 90 percent of its power from natural gas, with the other 10 percent coming from hydro projects. The association said it surveyed its members and found three-quarters agreed that it should become less dependent on natural gas and a similar number favored the decision to buy power from a Fire Island wind project.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.