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The U.S. Coast Guard plans to install three wind turbines at Station Juneau next year.
The two-story downtown building is due for regular maintenance, and the guard decided to have it certified green by the U.S. Green Building Council at the same time. Generating power on-site adds several points toward certification.
The ground-level wind turbines will generate a modest amount of energy, saving about $100 a month. The investment payback is estimated at 12 years, said Bob Deering, Environmental & Energy Branch Chief of the U.S. Coast Guard Civil Engineering Unit Juneau.
The Coast Guard analyzed wind information from nearby weather stations and determined there is enough wind at the location on Gastineau Channel to generate power, Deering said.
Three Skystream wind turbines have already been purchased.
The Coast Guard can ignore municipal development codes, but Deering said the guard plans to go through the city's process to provide a chance to consider wind turbines before they are installed.
NOAA will install a tubular-shaped wind generator on its building next door to Station Juneau this week, but the Coast Guard's turbines will be the first traditional-looking windmills in Juneau.
The Coast Guard's are 12 feet in diameter and will stand about 50 feet high from ground level, close to the roof height of Station Juneau.
The same model was installed Nov. 6 at Sherrod Elementary school in Palmer - the first wind turbine at an Alaska school. It primarily will be an educational tool for students.
The Coast Guard wind turbines in Juneau will serve a similar purpose, Deering said.
"It's a little laboratory for us to experiment," he said. "The Coast Guard has other sites that are fantastic wind resources we want to look at, but before we put them up we want to get a little more experience close to home."
Deering said stations in the Aleutian Islands would be excellent candidates for wind energy projects.