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Developer hopes to use Delta Junction wind power

Posted: Monday, September 27, 2010

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks developer wants to build a 25-megawatt wind farm near Delta Junction despite limited possibilities for public aid.

Mike Craft said his firm, Alaska Environmental Power, is working with Golden Valley Electric Association to determine how wind power can be fed into the transmission grid in interior Alaska.

The work parallels planning by Golden Valley for a wind farm near Healy. Craft said last week he hopes the integration studies will lead to power-sale agreements between his firm and the utility, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Golden Valley previously agreed to a pilot sales agreement from two smaller turbines at the Delta site, he said. The turbines, built with state aid, have produced 134,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Craft, a builder and residential developer, looked to enter the wind power business about three years ago. He approached public officials last winter for help with his project and received lukewarm response but continued and hopes to install 16 GE turbines near Delta.

The $90 million-plus Eva Creek proposal near Healy is similar in size to Craft's plan. Golden Valley has said stimulus loan aid could help it build and operate the farm without increasing retail electric rates.

Wind power has slowly grown on in Alaska. It comprises 11 megawatts of installed power capacity, said the Alaska Renewable Energy Project's Stephanie Nowers, citing a state Energy Authority estimate. That figure is 10 times the number in 2002.

Alaska is well poised geographically to capture another 10-fold increase, she said.

A few small rural wind projects have fallen short of expectations but Nowers counts 20 communities generating some portion of their electricity from wind.

"Just like with any technology, there's a learning curve," she said.

"They're getting better and better at integrating them in villages" to complement diesel systems, she said.



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