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Wind energy in Alaska

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02 October 2012

All 11 wind turbines on Fire Island are now generating power for Southcentral Alaska. Officials at Cook Inlet Region Incorporated say they’ve been testing the turbines and transmission lines for nearly a month now. And Monday it became official – all of them are feeding into the grid.

If the wind is blowing, from now on when you look out across Cook Inlet from Anchorage, you might be able to see them spinning, all 11 of them. The wind turbines on Fire Island are providing the first source of renewable energy for Alaska’s largest city and surrounding areas.

Suzanne Gibson is Vice President of Fire Island Wind and the Senior Director of Energy Development for Cook Inlet Region Incorporated, the Native Corporation that built the wind farm. She says CIRI completed construction in mid-August but they’ve been tying up details since.

“So it’s sort of a check list of things that we’ve had to accomplish in order to reach this date a nd we felt like were there on Friday and so we submitted a certificate of commercial operation to Chugach on Friday, which makes today sort of the contractual affective date that we began commercial operations with our buyer,” Gibson said.

The buyer is Chugach Electric Association. At the beginning, the cost of the wind power will be slightly more expensive than gas they use to generate most of their power now. Chugach power costs, on average, 6 cents per kilowatt hour. At the start the wind power will be 3.7 cents more. The project has been in the works since the 90′s, when a study identified Fire Island as the best place in the area to capture the wind power. And during the recent windstorm, Gibson says nature proved her point a little too strongly.

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