Tag Archives: Wind Energy

Our Alaska: Living off the grid

From Alaska Dispatch, Sunday, January 2, 2011:

When general contractor David Doolen and his wife Dale bought land far up Rabbit Creek Valley more than 25 years ago, they weren’t planning on disconnecting from the municipal power grid. But back then the muni would have charged the Doolens $60,000 to run up a line to connect the house to city power, so they decided to keep the lights on using solar power and a generator. Today they’ve got two solar panels in addition to the diesel generator, which is connected to a 300-gallon tank that needs filling about twice a year. One side benefit of this unique setup: When the rest of Anchorage suffers through a blackout, the Doolens’ lights stay on. “We always feel pretty smug when that happens,” David said.

Watch the video: Our Alaska: Living off the grid

Anchorage elementary getting wind turbine

From The Associated Press, Tuesday, December 21, 2010:

Begich Middle School in Anchorage has won school board approval to install a wind turbine.

The Anchorage Daily News reports it’s part of a federal program to teach renewable energy. The turbine will generate enough electricity to run up to eight computers.

Alaska is one of 11 states in the Energy Department’s Wind for Schools program.

Sherrod Elementary in Palmer also has a turbine. Schools in Juneau are working with the Coast Guard station’s wind turbine.

Continue reading: Anchorage elementary getting wind turbine

Is a Small Wind Energy System Right for You?

From the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Wednesday, November 17, 2010:

When I think of wind technology, an image comes to mind of a towering fleet of turbines. Although I’ve never seen a wind farm up close, I’ve heard from several people that it’s an awe-inspiring sight. I may not have the chance to see a large-scale wind farm anytime soon, but I have had the opportunity to examine a small wind energy system—an alternative source of energy that can fully or partially provide power for the home.

During a recent visit to the U.S Botanic Gardens (USBG) in Washington, D.C., I noticed a vertical wind turbine on display. This single turbine, relatively small in stature, provides up to 2,000 kilowatt hours per year for the USBG. The Garden’s horizontal wind turbine provides an additional 2,500 kW hours per year. Although D.C. is not an ideal windy city, the USBG estimates that these turbines generate enough electricity to light its annual holiday show and power its electric utility vehicle.
In the same way, a small wind energy system can provide a significant amount of clean, renewable energy for your home. Wind turbines work by converting the kinetic energy of wind into electricity. The blades of the wind turbine are aero-dynamically designed to capture the maximum energy from the wind. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft connected to a generator that in turn produces electricity. Check out our Energy 101 video series to learn more about wind energy basics.

Continue reading: Is a Small Wind Energy System Right for You?

Offshore Wind Power Line Wins Backing

From The New York Times, Tuesday, October 12, 2010:

Google and a New York financial firm have each agreed to invest heavily in a proposed $5 billion transmission backbone for future offshore wind farms along the Atlantic Seaboard that could ultimately transform the region’s electrical map.

The 350-mile underwater spine, which could remove some critical obstacles to wind power development, has stirred excitement among investors, government officials and environmentalists who have been briefed on it.

Google and Good Energies, an investment firm specializing in renewable energy, have each agreed to take 37.5 percent of the equity portion of the project. They are likely to bring in additional investors, which would reduce their stakes.

If they hold on to their stakes, that would come to an initial investment of about $200 million apiece in the first phase of construction alone, said Robert L. Mitchell, the chief executive of Trans-Elect, the Maryland-based transmission-line company that proposed the venture.

Marubeni, a Japanese trading company, has taken a 15 percent stake. Trans-Elect said it hoped to begin construction in 2013.

Continue reading: Offshore Wind Power Line Wins Backing

Developer hopes to capitalize on wind power near Delta Junction

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sunday, September 26, 2010:

A Fairbanks developer said Tuesday he hopes he can build a 25-megawatt wind farm near Delta Junction despite limited avenues for public aid.

Mike Craft said his firm, Alaska Environmental Power, is working with Golden Valley Electric Association to study how to best feed wind power into Interior Alaska’s transmission grid.

The work parallels planning by Golden Valley for a separate wind farm near Healy.

Craft told a chamber of commerce audience Tuesday he hopes the integration studies will lead to power-sale agreements between his firm and the utility. He said Golden Valley previously agreed to a smaller, pilot sale agreement following construction of two smaller turbines at the Delta site.

“(It) made it possible for us to come on line with these two turbines. That helped us a lot,” Craft said. He said the turbines, the largest built with state aid, have produced 134,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Craft, a builder and residential developer, started looking to enter the wind power business roughly three years ago. He approached public officials last winter for help with his project and received lukewarm responses but said Tuesday he chose to continue and hopes to install 16 GE turbines near Delta.

Wind power company in 'talks' with AVEC

From The Tundra Drums, Wednesday, September 15, 2010:

WindPower Innovations Inc., a wind power infrastructure and smart grid solutions company (PINK SHEETS:WPNV), announced talks with Alaska Villages Electric Co-op (AVEC), a non-profit electric utility, owned by the people served in 53 villages throughout interior and western Alaska, and is the largest service area of any retail electric cooperative in the world.

News of the talks arrived in a written statement from WindPower.

“We are in the second round of talks with AVEC to enhance the efficiency of their 250-500 kW wind turbines with our system optimization and grid-tie solutions,” says John Myers, president and CEO of WindPower Innovations. “Alaska represents a marketplace in the hundreds of millions and soon to be over a billion dollars for wind and other alternative energy sources, and the adaptability of WindPower Innovations’ technology allows us to capitalize on opportunities in extreme and remote environments where others can’t. We will be able to provide AVEC with solutions that help them break through barriers in efficiency and help solve the challenges faced by Alaska’s extremes in climate, geography and distance.”

AVEC is in the process of upgrading and increasing the operating efficiency of its power plant facilities and distribution lines, along with expanding its wind power segment, continuing to move away from costly diesel-generated power.

Continue reading: Wind power company in ‘talks’ with AVEC

Towers and turbines have regulations, too


By CCHRC Staff

The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.

Q: Are there any regulations I need to know about before I put up a wind tower, or can I put one up anywhere?

Wind technology has been around for a long time but is only now truly growing among the consumer sector, so the laws and regulations are still developing as well. There are few regulations pertaining to wind turbines specifically, but there are regulations pertaining to towers in general.

If the tower is more than 200 feet tall, it must have a light on top to meet FAA regulations. If the tower is part of another building, construction regulations come into play, as there are some stipulations on the height of structures on properties. Consult the local building departments and learn about planning and zoning considerations. These regulations are looked at on a case-by-case basis because the subdivision, zoning and other factors must be considered.

Even though there are few regulations when it comes to wind turbines specifically, do not disregard aesthetics and potential noise. Also do not leave your neighbors out of the process. They may have some questions or concerns or may just want to know how a nearby wind turbine will affect them.

Q: Where can I recycle metal locally?

The most common metals people have are aluminum cans and tin cans.

There are many places aluminum cans are accepted in the interior. Nonprofit organizations like the Lion’s Club, Fairbanks Resource Agency and Joy Elementary will take them because they can be turned in for money. The Fairbanks Rescue Mission also accepts cans as part of its recycling program.

Aluminum can go straight to the metal recyclers such as C&R Pipe and Steel and K&K Recycling.

Some of the FNSB transfer sites also have collection bins for aluminum.

Food cans are also accepted at metal recyclers (they do not pay out for tin cans like they do for aluminum). For all other types of metals, including automobiles and building materials, contact the local recyclers to see what they will accept. Some of the borough transfer sites will take other metals and items, like appliances, which have specially designated bins.

Alaska HomeWise articles promote home awareness for the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC). If you have a question, e-mail us at akhomewise@cchrc.org.You can also call the CCHRC at (907) 457-3454.

Wind farm could produce cheaper power, GVEA says

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Wednesday, June 23, 2010:

A wind farm near Healy would likely produce cheaper power than the wholesale prices Golden Valley Electric Association pays, Kate Lamal, a vice president for the utility, said Tuesday. 

Lamal said that if projections hold true, that would prevent customer rates from increasing if the utility finishes the $93 million project. 

Golden Valley is readying Eva Creek following an early June change to borrowing rules. The wind farm, near Healy, would be the largest in the state. 

The farm could produce power for a full cent less than Golden Valley’s current wholesale price, which is about 10.6 cents per kilowatt-hour, Lamal said at a presentation on wind energy Tuesday night. She compared that to projections of 14 cent power that preceded a recent change to reimbursement plans under a federal clean energy subsidy program. 

Lamal said the change means Eva Creek — which based on wind patterns at the site is projected to deliver 9 megawatts of power, a fraction of Golden Valley’s portfolio — won’t increase customer’s bills. 

“We think we’ve found a very elegant solution” to the diverging interests between members willing to pay extra for green power and those more interested in lowering rates, Lamal said. “That was the biggest factor, the (interest rate) that we can get to build this project.” 

Lamal said the utility is addressing the project’s other big variables: Years of data on wind patterns are strong enough to secure loans and a $2 million renewable-energy grant from the state has paid for studies of road access, bird migration patterns and integration with Golden Valley’s existing energy portfolio. She said the utility plans to solicit bids to present to the board of directors this fall. A supportive nod from directors would let engineering advance this winter, road and foundation construction occur next summer and turbine installation in 2012, she said. 

Wind power lecture tonight at Blue Loon

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, June 22, 2010:

The Alaska Center for Energy and Power will host a wind power discussion at

6 p.m. tonight at The Blue Loon.

“Wind Powering Alaska” will discuss the potential for turning Alaska’s wind into energy. Kate Lamal from Golden Valley Electric Association will talk about plans to build a wind farm near Healy, while Kat Keith from the Alaska Center for Energy and Power will discuss costs and benefits of wind power.

For more information about the free lecture, go to www.uaf.edu/acep.

Make home repairs now while weather is good


By CCHRC Staff

The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.

Q: I want to inspect my home this summer, just in case there are any repairs I should make.

What kind of things do I want to look at?

The parts of your home that have moving parts or are exposed to hot or cold are most likely to need maintenance.

To begin, inspect your windows to make sure they open and close properly and seal well. Look at door and window hinges and related gasket seals and check for any condensation or breakage between your window panes. Inspect your chimney, which will prevent potential stack fires and will also improve efficiency. Especially inspect where your chimney goes through your attic and roof.

Have your boiler or furnace inspected for proper functioning and change your fuel filter if you use oil heat. Replace any air filters, including those in your heat recovery ventilator.

Check to see if your foundation exhibits any signs of cracking or movement, which is a sign of shifting soil or settling. Look at the exterior walls and roof of your home for any deteriorating siding or roofing. Fading, peeling paint or corroding roof tiles are an indication you may need to replace roofing, or treat or paint your home.

Inspect your attic and crawlspace for problems, especially moisture. Have your septic tank pumped. Add salt to your water softener and change water filters. Replace batteries in your smoke alarms and CO2 sensors and make sure both are working properly.

Remember it is easier to make repairs such as these in the summer than in the winter. Putting off home maintenance is tempting to do on a bright sunny day, but you may pay for it later with time, money and convenience.

Can I break my wind turbine or overload the system?

The Fairbanks area does not often get extremely strong winds, so overburdening a wind turbine system is unlikely.

Wherever you live, you want to be sure your turbine is properly sized. Do not settle for an inexpensive turbine and hope for the best — purchase a durable model rated for those conditions.

When shopping for your system, note that some are designed to cope with irregular conditions.

If the turbine is connected to the power grid it will put power onto the grid and not overload. Some systems will even shut down to avoid problems from extreme high winds. No matter the situation, consult with a professional before you begin any wind project, make sure to choose the right turbine for your area and perform regular maintenance as specified by the manufacturer.

Alaska HomeWise articles promote home awareness for the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC). If you have a question, e-mail us at akhomewise@cchrc.org.You can also call the CCHRC at (907) 457-3454.