More Wind in Our “Sales”

More Wind in Our “Sales”
The KEA High Penetration Wind Project

Darron Scott

KEA is officially moving forward with adding three more wind turbines on Pillar Mountain. The KEA Board of Directors authorized the purchase through approval of a contract with General Electric by a unanimous vote at their Regular Meeting on August 25, 2011. This is a tremendous step forward in providing clean renewable energy for our communities and meeting our vision statement to Endeavor to produce 95% of energy sales with cost effective renewable power solutions by the year 2020. 

KEA’s High Penetration Wind Project involves three aspects: First, to add three 1.5 MW wind turbines with additional transformation at High Substation, and second, to add the appropriate sized energy storage devices.  Finally, we will add a third hydro turbine at Terror Lake. We have already talked about the third hydro turbine at Terror Lake, and we will talk about the new energy storage system in the future. The new wind turbines will be nearly identical to the original three wind turbines.  The optimum installed capacity is 4.5 MW of additional wind, generating approximately 13 million kilowatt hours. This amount of wind energy matches our grid needs: system stability and load demand. This will increase our wind capacity to 9 Megawatts with an annual production of about 26 million kilowatt hours.

Our schedule provides for erection of the wind turbines in August 2012.  General Electric is the turbine supplier and provider of support commissioning crew, and these new wind turbines are just the newer versions of the turbines we already have. Working through our initial three-turbine wind project in 2009 has prepared us for the logistical challenges in transporting and installing our next three new wind turbines.  Shifting our source of electric energy from diesel to fuel-free renewables not only lowers the cost of power, but it also stabilizes the cost of power. The fewer gallons we need to generate electricity, the less impact volatile fuel prices have on our communities. Without the Pillar Mountain High Penetration Wind Project, we would have to remain dependent upon diesel powered generation to supplement our existing wind and hydro generation.

Pillar Mountain’s excellent wind resource has been established by the successful operation of our first three wind turbines. The Pillar Mountain High Penetration Wind Project is the most cost-effective approach for KEA to meet our communities’ growing electrical demand by optimizing our existing hydro-wind infrastructure. When combined with the hydropower from the Terror Lake facility and the original three wind turbines on Pillar Mountain, the Pillar Mountain High Penetration Wind Project is expected to supply our electrical system with approximately 98% renewable energy. This project is the next important and necessary step towards achieving our renewable energy vision.  We will continue to assist communities throughout Alaska and the world move toward greater energy independence by sharing the lessons we learn.

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