You’ve probably flown over Fire Island dozens of times. It is about three miles southwest of Anchorage, just off the runway at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
Now big changes for the island may be blowing in the wind.
Native corporation Cook Inlet Region Inc. announced today it wants to start a wind farm.
CIRI has formed a partnership with enXco Development Corporation and the companies want to build 20 to 24 wind turbines – Some as tall as 412 feet – at a cost of about $70 million.
Steve Gilbert of enXco said if the turbines work out more will be coming.
“A 50 megawatt wind project on Fire Island would produce 150,000 megawatt hours a year, which is what about 16-18,000 average Anchorage homes,” Gilbert said.
While CIRI and enXco are footing the bill for construction, they’ll need about $40 million for infrastructure to get the electricity off the island and into homes.
CIRI President Margie Brown said there is a provision in the state budget to cover some of that.
“At this point there is something in the Capitol budget in the Legislature that’s being worked right now and that amount is, I think it’s about $20 million,” Brown said.
The federal government is being asked to pay the rest.
How would wind energy affect your monthly bill?
EnXco said expect it to go up about two percent – small change it says, when you look at how fuel prices keep rising.
“If you built 100 megawatt project, so we’re thinking future now, that would displace 10 to 14 percent of the current fuel bill,” Gilbert said.
With many obstacles still to overcome, including purchasing agreements from local energy providers and securing more money, the future of the project is still up in the air.
CIRI said it hopes to have the wind farm up and running by 2009.
EnXco said there are two eagle nests on Fire Island, but the company said the wind turbines will have little affect on the birds and the infrastructure will run underground in Cook Inlet, to minimize any harm that could happen to sea animals.
by Rebecca Palsha
9 May 2007
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