Wind power to cut diesel fuel costs

Wind energy now provides residents of an isolated Alaska village with renewable energy to run a water treatment facility, reducing the village’s dependence on imported diesel fuel while maintaining crucial infrastructure.

Southwest Windpower, in conjunction with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and Anchorage-based Susitna Energy Systems, installed three of the distributed wind turbine maker’s Skystream 3.7 machines, which will power ANTHC’s two-year-old, state-of-the-art water plant. The wind turbines are projected to supply approximately 75 percent of the roughly 18,000 kWh consumed annually by the facility. In high wind conditions, excess energy produced by the wind turbines will be distributed to the village, called Goodnews
Bay, through a micro-grid.

Home to about 250 residents, the coastal village located about 500 miles west of Anchorage is one of Alaska’s poorest communities. Until the wind turbines became operational last month, the village was completely reliant on diesel generators to supply its electricity. Because of the remote location, diesel must be imported by boat or aircraft, further adding to the cost of the energy source. Diesel is also one of the dirtier means of producing electricity but is heavily relied upon in Alaska because of its remote areas. Distributed wind power, such as the deployment of the Skystream 3.7 in this case, is seen as a solution to meeting the power needs of many such communities in the state. Skystream 3.7s have been used for other village electrification projects in coastal regions of Alaska, such as in the 2008 installation of a 10-turbine micro-grid for the village Perryville.

Wind speeds at the village are classified as Class 5, or, “excellent” by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  “The wind turbines take advantage of an available natural resource and will be used to offset electrical power demands for the water system and ultimately make sanitation and improved health more sustainable for the community,” said John Warren, P.E., engineering services director for ANTHC’s Division of Environmental Health and Engineering.

“The Goodnews Bay project is a great example of small-scale wind energy systems helping people while also saving money and fostering a sense of self sufficiency,” said Greg Erdmann, vice president of sales and marketing at Southwest Windpower. “Our new corporate tag-line is ‘Energy where it matters,’ and this is a perfect example of our products providing on-site energy for village electrification projects in developing and remote areas of the world.”

By Carl Levesque, AWEA Editor & Publications Manager,