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Wind power advocates celebrate approval for Fire Island

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

According to an early Tuesday announcement from the Alaska Public Interest Group (AKPIRG) and the Alaska Conservation Alliance (ACA), wind power advocates are celebrating a decision by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) that amounts to a green light from state regulators for Cook Inlet Region Inc.'s Fire Island Wind Project.

Alaska Dispatch's own Alex DeMarban reported Monday on the ruling and the details of the agreement. Read it here.

Read AKPIRG and ACA's announcement in its entirety below, and click here for a copy of the RCA's ruling.

VERY LATE Monday, October 10th, wind power advocates celebrated the Regulatory Commission of Alaska’s (RCA) decision to approve the Fire Island Wind Power Purchase Agreement. This decision, a result of many days of intense hearings, allows Chugach Electric Association to purchase wind power from CIRI’s Fire Island Wind Project, and enables the project to proceed with financing and construction in 2011.

The Alaska Center for the Environment (ACE), Alaska Public Interest Group (AKPIRG) and the Alaska Conservation Alliance (ACA) worked together on behalf of their members to ensure Fire Island Wind Project became a reality. 

"This is a huge step toward energy diversification and price stability in the Railbelt,” stated Steve Cleary of the Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AkPIRG)   “Whereas other proposed energy sources are many years away, Chugach customers can now expect to be using renewable wind power as early as 2012,” Cleary continued.

“The RCA’s approval allows for 6,000 homes, nearly four percent of Chugach’s energy needs, to be powered by clean and local wind energy,” stated Kate McKeown, Clean Energy Coordinator with the Alaska Conservation Alliance.  “By offsetting natural gas, Southcentral Alaska is moving toward reducing our reliability on volatile natural gas prices.”

According to CIRI, the 11-turbine commercial-scale wind farm on Fire Island, three miles west of Anchorage, will provide 51,000 MW-hours of power to Chugach Electric Association annually, and has a generating capacity of 17.6 MW.  With additional buyers, the project has the potential to expand to 33 turbines, generating nearly 53MW annually.  RCA’s decision to approve the Power Purchase Agreement guarantees a 25-year, flat net price for the wind power.