STATUS: In progress
OPPOSITION: Federal Aviation Administration, Chugach Electric Association
BACKGROUND: The $200 million project is located on Fire Island, an island west of Anchorage. The project will consist of 33 GE XLE 1.6 megawatt wind turbines and will generate approximately 144,000 MW hours of electricity annually, which is enough power to meet the needs of 17,000 households. The developer of the project is Cook Inlet Region, Inc. (“CIRI”)
The project has faced opposition from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Chugach Electric Association. Because the Federal Aviation Administration worried that the turbines would interfere with an aircraft navigation signal on Fire Island, CIRI was forced to decrease the number of turbines to 20. However, in March 2009, the FAA said that they could move the aircraft navigation station off of the island. This allowed the Fire Island Wind Project to return to 36 towers.
Chugach Electric Association, Alaska’s biggest electricity utility, claimed in May 2007 that wind power may not be the cheapest alternative energy power. Their lack of interest was a setback for the project. However, the Chugach board eventually dismissed these claims.
CIRI officials have reported that it must get contracts finalized with regional electric utilities and start construction by December 2010, or $44 million in up-front federal stimulus funds that could lower the project's financing costs will lapse. The corporation will have spent about $6 million by the end of the year, mostly in engineering and permitting costs, but including limited site clearing and other work done on the island. The project is expected to be completed by 2012.
SOURCES: Fire Island Wind: http://www.fireislandwind.com/;
Anchorage Daily News: Accessed: http://www.adn.com/front/story/666835.html;
Wind Action Network: http://www.windaction.org/news/9436;
Morgan Howard Productions: http://www.morganhowardproductions.com/2009/ciri-wind-farm-on-fire-island-is-closer-to-reality/;
Peninsula Clarion: http://www.peninsulaclarion.com/stories/102510/new_725803645.shtml
Last updated November 5, 2010