Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Fire Island Wind Project Approved
After nearly two decades of planning, the Fire Island Wind Project is finally becoming a reality.
The Regulatory Commission of Alaska on Monday approved the Fire Island Wind Farm Project purchase agreement. It gives Cook Inlet Region, Inc. the green light to build a windmill farm on the southern tip of Fire Island, located just three miles west of Anchorage.
The approval would allow Chugach Electric Association to buy a portion of its energy needs from CIRI, which is building the wind farm.
For nearly two decades, the idea of having a large-scale wind farm on Fire Island has been just that—an idea. But now, it will become a reality.
Chugach, which relies on natural gas for most of its energy, estimates the deal will replace about 4 percent of its total electric needs. It is expected to supply nearly 6,000 homes on the railbelt.
“It’ll be the first major commercial installation of a renewable resource,” said Ethan Schutt, vice president of land and energy development at CIRI.
The project is expected to cost $90 million and required approval of the RCA in order to qualify for a $19 million federal stimulus grant.
“It’s a very solid investment in the future, and all across the country we see people turning toward alternative energy,” said Steve Cleary, a renewable energy advocate.
Beginning in spring 2012, eleven massive 242-foot wind turbines will be built on Fire Island. They are expected to begin supplying power to Chugach shortly thereafter.
Chugach customers can expect slightly higher prices at first, but prices will be cheaper in the long run, according to CIRI.
The agreement would be a 25-year flat rate forecast, which means prices would stay the same.
According to CIRI officials, it’s just one step to help Alaska reduce its dependency on natural gas and fossil fuels.
“The best public policy is to utilize all of your energy resources, because the traditional petroleum resources can be exported into the global market if you have an excess and you’re using renewable energy for your own domestic use," said Schutt.
But most importantly, CIRI said it’s a project that will help meet some of the state’s growing energy needs.