Wind Energy from Bering Sea to Power St. Lawrence Island

Remote villages in Alaska are used to power provided by diesel generators or wood fires, but soon the people living there will get power from the wind as well. Northern Power Systems was awarded a US$1.9 million contract from Anchorage-based Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) to provide seven of the company’s NorthWind 100 kW wind turbines.

The turbines will generate renewable electric power for three remote communities, in western Alaska, served by AVEC. As part of the contract award, Northern will provide on-site installation and commissioning services of the turbines in the harsh Alaskan environment. It is the first stage in a broader effort through which AVEC will be integrating wind energy into some 51 Alaskan communities to which it currently provides electric power. “Our analysis indicated that Northern’s NorthWind 100 turbine had all of the critical features we were looking for,” said Brent Petrie, Project Manager at AVEC. “These include its overall design, power quality, cold weather suitability, ease of integration, protected access for servicing, and small number of moving parts. We also believe that Northern has the capability to readily support products that they place in the field.” For over two years, a NorthWind100 turbine has been operating above the Arctic Circle in Kotzebue, Alaska and has collected solid operational data. Since being installed in May 2002, the turbine has operated in temperatures as low as -39 C and has had the highest energy capture of the turbines at the Kotzebue wind farm. The turbines should be delivered to AVEC in the summer of 2005, and installation is scheduled during the Summer/Fall Alaskan construction season. Establishing turbines in Alaska is part of a remote community program to update power supplies, integrate wind power into the current diesel generation, and reduce fuel storage requirements. AVEC operates over 144 diesel generators that run a cumulative total of more than 410,000 hours per year. According to Lawrence Mott, Northern’s Commercial Manager, AVEC has been a pioneer in integrating new technology into diesel powered, isolated grids. “AVEC’s efforts to use the latest in fuel efficient diesel engines have really paid off,” Mott said. “And now, after working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on a project in Wales, Alaska, and installing wind in another project in Selawik, AVEC has made a significant commitment to wind by choosing the NorthWind 100. The turbines will be installed into three communities, two of which are on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea.”
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