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Fire Island turbines now producing wind power for Southcentral Alaska

Alaska Dispatch
Loren Holmes photo

It's official: After a decade in the making, Fire Island wind turbines are supplying power to Southcentral Alaska.

All 11 wind turbines are now generating power according to the Alaska Public Radio Network. The turbines went through a checklist of things necessary before Fire Island Wind, a CIRI Inc. subsidiary, could start delivering power to its buyer, Chugach Electric Association Inc., starting Friday, Sept. 21.

The $65-million project is expected to produce 50,000 megawatt-hours of power annually -- enough to power 4,000 Southcentral Alaska households. All together, that's about 4 percent of the power Chugach produces.

CIRI entered into an agreement with Chugach for the utility to purchase 25 years of Fire Island's power for $97 per megawatt-hour for 25 years. That's higher than the current price -- about $60 a megawatt-hour right now -- but the price of wind power is expected to remain consistent, while natural gas-powered energy is expected to fluctuate in price.

Work on the project was ironically halted for three days by severe winds from a regional storm earlier this month. No turbines were damaged in the storm, but crews on the island spent time clearing trees.

That contract to deliver power to Chugach isn't set to begin until Jan. 1, but any power produced before next year will still be sold to the Anchorage-based utility.