Fire Island wind farm in late 2009
CIRI says that the state has appropriated $25 million for a transmission line from the island to the Anchorage electric grid
A wind farm proposed for electrical power generation on Fire Island in Alaska’s Cook Inlet, three miles offshore Anchorage, could go into operation in late 2009 or early 2010, Sophie Minich, chief operating officer for Cook Inlet Region Inc., told the audience at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce June 23. The state Legislature has appropriated $25 million for the construction of a submarine cable from the island to connect to the electrical grid in Anchorage, Minich said.
“The cost of the power lines won’t have to be paid by the utilities or customers that buy power from Fire Island,” she said.
The next steps in the Fire Island project will be to negotiate power purchase agreements with the Railbelt utilities and to finalize the project engineering and permitting.
“Phase one of the Fire Island project involves 24 wind towers that could generate up to a total of 50 megawatts,” Minich said. “This project could later be expanded to generate 100 megawatts … enough power to supply roughly 35,000 average sized Railbelt homes.”
FAA approvalMinich said that the Federal Aviation Administration had determined that the wind farm would not pose a navigational hazard for aircraft using the nearby Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. FAA approval of the wind farm plan has proved to be a major issue for the project.
CIRI, the majority landowner on Fire Island, has partnered with EnXco to form Wind Energy Alaska, the company that will fund and build the wind farm. In January Steve Gilbert, EnXco’s Alaska projects manager, told Petroleum News that the partners were seeking separate funding for the supporting infrastructure, including a substation and the transmission line. The estimated cost of the infrastructure is $54 million, while the wind farm itself would cost somewhere in the range of $94 million to $95 million, Gilbert said.
In addition to the Fire Island wind farm, Wind Energy Alaska will be involved in other renewable energy projects in the coming years, Minich said.
“We expect Fire Island to be an anchor for additional wind energy projects up and down the Railbelt and across Alaska,” she said.
And Fire Island could also support other renewable energy options such as tidal power, she said.