After a decade of planning the Chugach Electric Association (CEA) will complete its $65M wind farm project on Fire island this Fall.
Roads, turbine pads and electrical infrastructure are nearly complete. Shore-side and submarine transmission lines will be complete by the end of the month. Construction is also under way for connecting roadways as well as an underwater transmission line from Fire Island to the Railbelt electric grid. The turbines are expected to supply 48,500 megawatt-hours annually, or enough to power 6,000 homes. The 11 General Electric 1.6 megawatt XLE wind turbines will provide about 4 percent of CEA’s power
The transmission line connecting the wind farm to the Railbelt electric grid cost about $27 million. A $25 million state grant paid for most of this. The total wind farm cost is about $65 million, with about $18 million from federal cash grants in lieu of tax credits under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009.
Chugach was incorporated in Alaska on March 1, 1948, with funding under the Rural Electrification Act of 1936. CEA’s revenues were $284 M in 2011, on an asset base of $853M. In 2011, Chugach had 530megawatts of installed generation capacity at five power plants. In 2011, 92 percent of the kilowatt-hours Chugach sold came from natural gas units and the other 8 percent from hydroelectric resources. CEA provides power to the metro Anchorage area. In fact, Chugach power flows to nearly three-fourths of Alaska’s population. Chugach serves 81,644 retail service locations in an area extending from Anchorage to the northern Kenai Peninsula, and from Whittier on Prince William Sound to Tyonek on the west side of Cook Inlet.
Chugach Electric Association’s plants are at least 30 years old. The Fire Island wind energy project is small but significant. The very large Susitna-Watana hydroelectric project, being promoted by CEA, will be another decade before completion.