Chugach Electric Association (CEA), the largest electric utility in Alaska, will buy the power from the project, which will allow CIRI to proceed with the construction of 11 wind turbines.
The Fire Island wind project, which will be Alaska’s largest wind power project, is located on Fire Island in Cook Inlet, just three miles west of Anchorage. The project, developed by Summit Power, will be owned and operated by Fire Island Wind (FIW), a wholly owned subsidiary of CIRI. The Fire Island wind project is also Alaska’s first major power project owned by an independent power producer.
When completed, the project could employ as many as 33 wind turbines that will be constructed in phases, the first phase of 11 turbines will have a 17.6 megawatt (MW) capacity and is expected to supply 51,000 MW-hours of power to Chugach annually. That will supply about four percent of Chugach’s power and provide enough electricity for approximately 6,000 homes.
Suzanne Gibson, CIRI Senior Director of Energy Projects explains, “South-central Alaska relies on natural gas to generate more than 90 percent of its electricity; however, the gas reserves currently available in Cook Inlet do not represent a reliable long-term source of energy for the power needs of the Cook Inlet region. Wind power will provide a clean and economical energy source for this region, while reducing consumer vulnerability to gas shortages and inevitable gas price increases. Summit Power has been instrumental in developing the Fire Island wind project with us to provide Alaska with a clean, renewable power supply.”
FIW will complete construction of the turbines and the undersea transmission line from Fire Island by the fall of 2012.
Summit Power Senior Vice President of Project Development, Tom Cameron, adds: “Fire Island represents a major milestone in diversifying the state’s energy portfolio. We’re extremely proud of our work with CIRI, which we believe demonstrates Summit’s ability to develop a complex, first-of-its-kind project with many parties while establishing a solid foundation for long-term success.”