Alaska agency gives go-ahead for 17.6-MW Fire Island Wind Farm

According to Cook Inlet Region, Inc. (CIRI), the wind energy project developer, the 11 wind turbines wind farm will generate 51,000 MWh of electricity annually. The electricity will be sold to Chugach Electric Association and will provide about four percent of that utility’s power. The power purchase agreement with Chugach provides for a 25-year, flat net price of 9.7 cents/kWh.

In a news release hailing the RCA decision, Kate McKeown, Clean Energy Coordinator with the Alaska Conservation Alliance (ACA), noted, “By offsetting natural gas, Southcentral Alaska is moving toward reducing our reliability on volatile natural gas prices.” ACA was a major backer of the proposal, along with the Alaska Public Interest Research Group and the Alaska Center for the Environment.

Commented Steve Cleary of AKPIRG, "This is a huge step toward energy diversification and price stability in the Railbelt. Whereas other proposed energy sources are many years away, Chugach customers can now expect to be using renewable wind power as early as 2012."

The RCA approval came just in time. CIRI had said that it needs to move quickly to begin site preparation for the wind turbines so that they can be installed next summer, ensuring the ability to qualify for a federal tax incentive that is currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.

The Fire Island wind energy project is one of a number that are moving forward all across the country as the 2012 deadline nears, putting thousands of construction workers on the job and also keeping wind turbine factories busy in areas like the growing wind manufacturing hub in the Southeastern U.S. In recognition of that fact, the WINDPOWER 2012 Conference & Exhibition is slated for Atlanta next June.

Tom Gray,