A project generating wind energy on Fire Island off Anchorage is now generating increased popularity.
Chugach Electric purchased all of the power generated by Cook Inlet Region Inc.’s wind turbine farm on the island, which started producing wind power in 2012.
If Chugach wants to purchase additional power, however, it may have some new competition -- such as the city of Anchorage, thanks to an Assembly resolution passed Tuesday night directing Municipal Light and Power to enter negotiations with CIRI.
“It’s a good deal for the city,” said Assembly member Bill Starr. “We don’t have to up-front any money or anything like that -- and quite frankly we get some property taxes, some good jobs out of it, and they buy a lot of material locally.”
So far, ML&P has declined to buy power from the wind farm because its cost was higher than generating electricity by burning natural gas.
“Once the wind-generation people can be cost-effective we’re anxious to talk to them,” said Jim Trent, ML&P’s general manager. “Any time we can get additional power, our philosophy is to be pro-renewable energy any time we can.”
Currently, the deal between CIRI and Chugach Electric adds about $1 to an average Chugach customer’s monthly bill. Chugach pays CIRI $97 for each megawatt-hour of wind power, versus $65 for each megawatt-hour generated with gas.
According to Suzanne Gibson, CIRI’s senior director of energy development at, the second phase of the project would create cheaper power, costing roughly $63 a megawatt-hour.
“Part of the advantage of building a second Phase 2 is that we can bring it in at a lower cost, because we already put infrastructure on Fire Island that we won’t have to rebuild to set a second phase,” Gibson said.
Gibson says she looks forward to starting discussions with ML&P, as well as Chugach, the Matanuska Electric Association and the Golden Valley Electric Association.
“The price of power of Phase 2 is so compelling that we felt that we need to go talk to the other utilities and see if anyone else would be interested,” Gibson said.
In its first phase, wind power on Fire Island produced about 80,000 megawatt-hours of energy -- or 6,000 residential households on an annual basis.
CIRI has already begun production on doubling Fire Island’s current 11 wind turbines to 22.