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GVEA denies wind farm request

FAIRBANKS – Golden Valley Electric Association officials said the electric co-op has denied a request for interconnection from Delta Wind Farm which proposed construction of a 13.5 megawatt wind farm in the Delta Junction area.

GVEA officials said the proposal was rejected because an additional wind farm would be a greater expense to the co-op and its customers.

After Delta Wind Farm submitted their interconnection request in December, GVEA hired Mike Hubbard – a system modeling consultant – to conduct a detailed analysis of operational and financial impacts of adding the proposed wind farm to the system.

GVEA Power Systems Manager Peter Sarauer said Hubbard’s study shows the amount of power Delta Wind Farm would generate “can swing wildly throughout the day.” Sarauer said this would require GVEA to generate regulation power. Regulation power would prevent the system from being rocked by a loss of power when the wind dies and turbines come to a halt.

“You need something that can pick up the load when the wind dies down,” Sarauer said. “(Regulation) buffers the movement of the wind. Ideally the wind would just blow at a steady rate all the time for hours and days.”

Hubbard’s study concluded it would cost $19.9 million to purchase the fuel needed to regulate the Delta Wind Farm in the first year. Sarauer said this would increase GVEA’s fuel costs by about 15 percent and would increase customer energy bills.

To regulate the Delta Wind Farm, GVEA would have to fire up two older diesel burning power generators in North Pole, Sarauer said these units are also more expensive to operate and GVEA tries not to operate these units whenever possible.

Sarauer said GVEA tries to integrate renewable energy when it’s a win-win for customers and the co-op, but this wind farm is not economical.

“(The Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act) is designed for encouraging renewable resources. But it doesn’t force companies to buy at a high price,” Sarauer said. “If the wind in Delta was exactly opposite of Eva Creek (GVEA’s wind farm near Healy) it wouldn’t incur additional costs. But it’s very similar and highly correlated. It compounds the amount of regulation needed.”

Delta Wind Farm Co-owner Mike Craft said he isn’t surprised his request was rejected.

“They’re misrepresenting facts,” Craft said of GVEA officials. “I can’t compete with those liars because I’m not a liar.”

Craft takes issue with a number of points in Hubbard’s study including the graphs that show Delta Wind Farm’s energy output correlates with Eva Creek’s. Craft said he can furnish a study his engineer conducted in 2010 to prove Delta Wind Farm would be a steadier source of power than what Hubbard’s study shows.

“They are two different wind regimes,” Craft said of Delta Wind Farm and Eva Creek.

Craft said Hubbard’s cost analysis is also skewed because it is based off tariffs Craft said are illegal. Craft is currently appealing in Superior Court the Regulatory Commission of Alaska’s approval of these tariffs.

Craft said he hasn’t thrown in the towel yet but GVEA has been an obstruction to independent power producers like himself since “day one.”

Sarauer said anyone who is skeptical can look at the information online on the Regulatory Commission of Alaska’s website.

“We took the information we had. We had the third party analysis. I think anybody that does their research on the topic would find that the evaluation and the research we did is accurate,” Sarauer said in response to Craft. “People can say what they want.”

To view document TA296-13, in which GVEA filed their denial of Delta Wind Farm’s request go to: http://bit.ly/2mZbB5g