August 2018 Back Page – Our Biggest Wind Projects Are Underway!Posted: August 1, 2018
AVEC has a fleet of 34 wind turbines in 11 communities. Because we have several communities connected to each other by tieline, we provide wind-generated electricity to 15 communities. The total installed wind capacity is about 3,300 kilowatts. The two projects under construction will increase our installed wind capacity by more than 50 percent to about 5,100 kilowatts and will add seven communities to those receiving electricity from wind. The new communities are Bethel, Oscarville, Napakiak, St. Mary’s, Andreafsky, Pitka’s Point and Mountain Village. Napakiak is not an AVEC member village but is receiving wholesale power from AVEC via tieline.
As can be seen from the picture on the cover of this magazine, the turbines being installed in Bethel and St. Mary’s are EWT 900-kilowatt turbines. EWT is a Dutch company that has been an active developer of these machines since the early 2000s. There are EWT turbines in Kotzebue, Nome and Delta Junction.
The wind turbines being installed in Bethel and St. Mary’s are shorter than others in the state because of FAA restrictions in those communities. The turbines are installed on 50-meter towers, unlike those in Nome and Kotzebue, which are on 75-meter towers. Once the nacelle with the blades are attached, they will reach up 76 meters, or 256 feet. With their distinctive red and white livery, they will be visible from a significant distance, even in storm conditions. The turbines are being installed this summer, and are expected to be online and generating electricity by the end of September. The tieline to Mountain Village will be built during the coming winter. We expect to provide them with wind power by the summer of 2019. The wind projects will cost $5 million each, and the tieline is another $6 million. Collectively, they are more than 90 percent grant-funded.
These projects would not have been possible without active support from local communities. In Bethel, we have been working with Bethel Native Corporation. It leased us the land the project occupies for a 20-year term and its subsidiary businesses are actively engaged in many aspects of the construction.
Pitka’s Native Corporation has been our primary partner on the St. Mary’s turbine. STG Inc., which has installed most of AVEC’s wind turbines, is the contractor installing both of these turbines. STG is owned by Calista, so that regional native corporation is also our partner in both projects.
Once fully commissioned, the Bethel wind turbine is expected to produce about 5 percent of the electricity we sell there. The St. Mary’s wind turbine is expected to produce almost 30 percent of the electricity produced in St. Mary’s and Mountain Village. Between the two turbines, we expect to displace about 350,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually.