Alaska is about to get a boost of wind power. Project planners in both Kodiak and Anchorage are preparing for a busy summer of wind turbine construction.
On a breezy day, the community of Kodiak gets just under 10% of its power from three turbines atop Pillar Mountain, which rises high above downtown.
The Kodiak Electric Association says the project has proven that wind energy is a reliable way to power homes and businesses on the island and so come September, if all goes as planned, there'll be three more turbines churning in the sea air.
“In the first 2 and a half years of operation, (the project) saved the community about $5 million, so this will just continue that trend,” said Darron Scott, KEA president and CEO.
The turbines in Kodiak are quite similar to what people in Anchorage will soon see out on Fire Island.
Anchorage's 11 wind turbines are currently sitting at the port, while crews finish ground work.
Perhaps you've noticed changes along Raspberry Rd. into Kincaid Park. Workers have been clearing trees, getting ready to bury a transmission cable which will carry electricity into town.
“We'll be going back and we'll be fixing up the ground, we'll be re-seeding it for grass to grow and all that work should be completed by the end of June,” said Suzanne Gibson, Senior Director of Energy Projects at CIRI, the native corporation which is in charge of the project.
Gibson said the towers should start going up in July. CIRI will sell power to Chugach Electric Association, which expects to power homes and businesses starting in September.
It'll mark the latest departure from fossil fuel electricity for many customers in Anchorage.
Kodiak meanwhile will become one of the most renewable-powered communities in Alaska, thanks to its new turbines and an existing hydroelectric dam.
The utility there has made it its goal to be 95% renewable by the year 2020.
“We'll be ahead of that goal for right now but our loads continue to grow, so it's a never ending goal to try to keep up,” said Scott.
Email Ted Land