Wind power saves Kodiak 1 million gallons of diesel

November 12, 2010 

A Coast Guard helicopter flies past the wind turbines on Kodiak's Pillar Mountain.

SARA FRANCIS / U.S. COAST GUARD PHOTO

Kodiak appears to be happy with its new wind farm. The Kodiak Electric Association estimates the new turbines on Pillar Mountain above the city have saved almost 1 million gallons of diesel fuel, reducing consumption by about half since the turbines began spinning in August 2009. Officials told the Alaska Journal of Commerce they aim to add turbines and eventually have 95 percent of power generation come from wind and hydro.

"These turbines took half of our diesel away," says Darron Scott, chief executive of Kodiak Electric Association. ... "It gets us that much closer to the 95 percent. It makes us less dependent on the oil being barged here. It also keeps the energy on island. It's a self-sufficiency Alaska is known for and gets us closer to controlling our own destiny. We won't be as susceptible to the ups and downs of the price volatility found with fossil fuels."

The utility cooperative has a permit to add three more turbines matching the three that stand 80 meters tall with blades 77 meters in diameter.

Scott says it will be another three to four years before they are added, but believes a second phase will go smoother.

"The biggest thing is we know how to do it," he said. "The logistics, we've got those worked out. We're breaking a lot of ground the first time through. All of this stuff comes from all over the world in different shipments, then we had to get them up the mountain. It's nerve wracking."

Wind power now supplies about 9 percent of the power for Kodiak's 6,000 residents, Scott said. The Terror Lake hydro project provides most of the city's power.

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