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Developers say proposed wind farm project could help power Anchorage, reducing strain on gas

Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News on

Published in Science & Technology News

Developers of a huge wind farm proposed for construction near Anchorage say it could help provide a much-needed boost to the area's energy needs, and will be most productive when it's most needed, when temperatures drop and demand for energy soars.

They say it could have provided 20% of the electricity used in the city during the recent extreme cold snap, reducing the strain on natural gas if it had already been built and was producing power.

The estimated power from the project, called Little Mount Susitna Wind, could have given Southcentral Alaska more breathing room during a critical period when natural gas supplies threatened to run short during the severe cold that began in late January and ended early this month, they said.

"When wind is available, gas assets can catch up," said Matt Perkins, a co-founder of Alaska Renewables, the company behind the wind farm.

For more than a year the company has employed meteorological stations to study the wind at the site, about 35 miles northwest of Anchorage, across Cook Inlet. The 120-megawatt project being reviewed calls for the construction of 30 turbines on land that would be leased from the state, the developers say.

It could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build. First wind power would be delivered as early as 2027, with full supply achieved in 2028 as the project is completed, if things go according to plan.

 

For the most part, the project should not be noticeable from Anchorage, the developers have said.

Chugach Electric Association said it has confirmed that annually, the project could provide about 20% of the utility's electric production, Chugach Electric spokeswoman Julie Hasquet said in an email.

The utility has also determined, based on data from Alaska Renewables, that during the cold snap the site would have provided "above-average production," Hasquet said. That wind power "could have helped reduce gas requirements" on the energy system from Homer to Fairbanks, she said.

That view is in line with statements by Alaska Renewables that the wind farm site receives more wind as temperatures drop in Anchorage, due in part to the area's geographic characteristics.

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