After a year of successful operation, GE’s wind turbines have enabled KEA to avoid the use of 930,000 gallons of diesel fuel. The three GE wind turbines for the Pillar Mountain wind energy project have a total capacity of 4.5 MW, which equals approximately 25 percent of KEA’s peak load demands.
In addition, the wind turbines have supplied roughly 9 percent of annual system generation for the island in the year that they have been operating. Prior to the installation of the wind turbines, KEA relied on diesel generation to provide much of the island’s peaking power.
“The use of wind turbines is saving our customers money and reducing emissions by directly displacing much of our diesel generation,” said Darron Scott, president & CEO of KEA. “The Pillar Mountain Wind Project is a significant step toward our target to generate 95 percent of our power from renewable resources by 2020.”
“We were very pleased to work on this wind farm, understanding how important it was to the residents of Kodiak Island to have their power generated from cleaner, renewable sources,” said Victor Abate, vice president-renewable energy for GE Power & Water. “The project is helping the community grow and hopefully will pave the way for future applications of our wind turbine technology in Alaska.”
Most of Kodiak Island is wilderness with only the eastern part of the island occupied by about 15,000 residents. The power grid is isolated with no external connections to other power sources. Prior to the installation of the wind turbines, all of the island’s power was provided by a two-unit hydroelectric plant and seven diesel generators.
GE wind turbines feature advanced controls and electronics, enabling these machines to meet grid codes and stay online supporting the grid even during severe disturbances. These grid-friendly features facilitated the application of such a high percentage of wind generation on KEA’s small, isolated grid. Because of the large percentage of wind generation on the KEA grid, studies are underway to examine high levels of wind penetration on smaller grids.
In addition to the supply of the wind turbines—the first megawatt-class machines to be installed in Alaska—GE also signed a two-year service agreement with KEA. Under this agreement, GE will perform routine maintenance of the wind turbines for two years while training KEA crews in maintenance practices.