ANCHORAGE - Two years and a lot of hard work later, a wind farm that now generates electricity into the Golden Valley Electric Association grid is taking shape on a knoll near Delta Junction. Alaska Environmental Power, LLC has one wind generator up and running, and has set the foundation for another. The generator site is northwest of Delta.
"We are getting ready to install another wind generator that is nine times larger than the one that is running now," said Mike Craft developer and managing partner at Alaska Environmental. "This will be 240 feet high and will generate 900 kilowatts of electricity."
Craft recently installed a 100-kilowatt Northwind generator that is running and adding energy into the Golden Valley Electric grid. According to Craft, he has a power purchasing agreement with GVEA that saves the electric cooperative money.
"We are adding just enough power into the grid to counter the line loss from sending electricity 100 miles to Delta," said Craft. "So GVEA is actually making money on this," by reducing the amount of power the co-op must provide.
The company's ultimate vision is to eventually supply 15 megawatts of clean and renewable power from his Delta location to the "rail belt" utility grid.
Craft said that his company has an agreement with GVEA to supply two megawatts that allowed him to apply to the Alaska Energy Authority for a $2 million grant.
"This gave us the push to go ahead and plan for a 15 megawatt wind farm, this size wind farm will give us the ability to go to the private sector for capital to invest in the project."
Craft is working with General Electric and says the company is ready to send as many as 10 wind generators to Craft to be used at the Delta location.
Craft spent years doing due diligence and studying wind patterns said that a by product of an Alaska location is that the air in the upper Tanana Valley is much denser than other locations at similar altitudes, which is 1,350 feet, which makes his units produce more energy at slower wind speeds.
Extensive bird studies by both private and federal agencies have been completed, according to Craft.
"We had two weeks of thorough bird studies that used radar, which are just completed. They show that the site is not a threat to bird migration," Craf said.
He also noted that the Northwind generator is one of few wind generators rated for use down to minus 50 degrees.
With 100 kilowatts of rated power, the Northwind 100 wind unit Craft is now using was originally designed for use in remote wind-diesel applications. An updated version has recently been released as an alternative power generator for grid-connected customers, such as small businesses, commercial farms, small communities, schools and universities, as well as small corporate and industrial sites, according to information from the company.