The wind project is Cook Inlet Region Inc.'s first development on Fire Island, and even as it is being built, company executives are mulling over what may be next.
CIRI is the only private landowner on Fire Island. It owns 3,600 of the island's 4,000 acres -- a huge piece of wooded, hilly and mostly undeveloped real estate just three miles from the city proper over mud flats and water.
CIRI has hired a consultant to do marine mammals counts around Fire Island from a wooden station on a Kincaid Park bluff overlooking Cook Inlet.
"It's just part of a general research project that we're doing that's associated with potential future developments," Jim Jager, CIRI spokesman, said recently. That work is not connected with the wind farm, he said.
"Anything that happens on Fire Island will require transportation to or from the island whether it be by boat or causeway or low flying glider or whatever," Jager said. "You are going to have to get out there. Because of the beluga rules, we are going to have to have a study." Cook Inlet beluga whales are listed as endangered.
The wind farm rules out any other big project on the island's southern end, said Ethan Schutt, CIRI senior vice president for land and energy development.
But much land would still be available. Maybe the city would want to expand its sewage treatment plant there. Or maybe a natural gas pipeline will be built from the North Slope to Southcentral Alaska for exporting liquefied natural gas.
"If by any magical means, there's ever an LNG export terminal in Cook Inlet, we'd like it be on the island instead of Nikiski or the Mat-Su," Schutt said Wednesday.
The northern end of the island already has been studied for use as a port , and it wouldn't require the sort of regular dredging necessary to keep shipping lanes open at the Port of Anchorage, he said.
"It's a deep channel, self scouring, no local bars. So it is actually a good port location if you had access to it," Schutt said.
Eventually, if a big project such a liquefied natural gas terminal were built, a bridge or causeway would likely be pursued to create better access. But there's no need for an expensive bridge to reach the wind farm, Schutt said.
At this point, CIRI says nothing specific is on the table.
Reach Lisa Demer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4390.