Kodiak Electric Association’s wind generation project is taking steps toward a naturally driven resource that could move the power company away from the high cost of diesel fuel.
Results of a 10-month study on wind data were analyzed in August and showed KEA is in a favorable position to use wind atop Pillar Mountain.
Darron Scott, KEA chief executive officer, said Wednesday the power company’s wind rank is a 7 on a scale of 1 to 8.
“That gives us a good wind regime to work with,” Scott said.
Once the power company clears all the hoops it takes to get the wind project off the ground, people in Kodiak could see towers twirling in the wind on Pillar by the summer of 2008.
Scott said a wind rank of class 7 is the most energetic wind speed and maximum gusts could hit 110 mph. But usable wind on Pillar averages about 16 mph.
Two wind-monitoring towers have been gathering data on Pillar since installation in November 2005. The two towers are about a mile apart following a ridge line south toward the Coast Guard Base and northward to a crest near the main visible antenna.
KEA filed for a land-lease agreement from the State of Alaska in August.
“They are digesting the application now,” Scott said.
Once the application is processed, the state will schedule public comment sessions for Kodiak for people to give input.
Scott said KEA expects to invest from $7 million to $10 million in the wind turbine plant.
KEA has applied for a zero- interest loan under the Energy Policy Act, which provides incentives for fuel-free energy production.
“We are hoping to hear from them any time,” Scott said.
So far, Scott said, about $100,000 has been spent for planning and design of the wind generation project.
KEA anticipates ordering four to eight wind turbine towers by the fall of 2007, with construction to begin in 2008.
Wind turbines, manufactured in India, may be purchased from a company in South Dakota.
The wind towers will stand about 130 to 165 feet high from ground to the center hub on the blades. The blades themselves will measure about 150 feet in diameter.
Scott said part of KEA’s challenge is to have machines in place that are able to withstand or harness wind speeds of up to 110 mph, although any winds above 45 mph will not produce power.
Part of the problem is arriving at a balance on a second-to-second basis.
“One second the wind is there, and one second it is not,” Scott said.
The Terror Lake hydroelectric plant will have to pick up the slack to compensate for wind fluctuations.
KEA also recently disclosed it is in the process of purchasing the hydroelectric facility at Terror Lake from the Four Dam Pool Power Agency, but that contract, to be finalized in 2007, is not related to the wind project. “They complement each other but are interdependent.”
But the bottom line, Scott said, is the cost effectiveness of the system once in place and the ability to operate completely from natural resources rather than fossil fuel or diesel.
The towers will produce from 3 to 5 megawatts or 600 kilowatts apiece. One thousand kilowatts equals one megawatt.
The cost of a kilowatt-hour is from 7 to 8 cents, compared to 18 cents per hour of diesel fuel.
The wind generation system is to generate from 10 to 15 percent of KEA total power, with Terror Lake producing about 85 percent. A 3 1/2-megawatt plant generates 11 million kilowatt hours a year. Converted to fuel, the cost would be about $750,000 annually for 1 million gallons.
It is that amount per year, Scott said, that will eventually be saved and passed on to customers by means of cost of power adjustment.
Scott said in addition to the monetary savings the wind-generated system is cleaner.
Scott said KEA also is working with Audubon groups to monitor bird migration and so far bird interaction appears to be safe.
Scott said KEA has been working with groups in Kotzebue and the Pribilofs where wind generation has been successful.
“The system has to be completely independent, unlike other systems in the Lower 48,” he said.
In addition, KEA is working with the city and borough, the Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Aviation Administration.
“It looks like a good fit for Kodiak,” Scott said.
Mirror writer Bryan Martin can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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