Fire Island Wind online, generating power

Crews finished constructing the first phase of the long-awaited project in mid-August and delivered its first power on Aug. 30. Less than a month later, after a comprehensive test program that was made more intensive by two major wind storms, General Electric commissioned and turned over control of 11 GE XLE 1.6 MW wind turbines that are expected to generate some 50,000 MW-hours of power annually, enough to offset approximately 0.5 billion cubic feet (BCF) of natural gas consumption for power generation annually. 
The Fire Island Wind farm is owned, was built and will be operated by Fire Island Wind LLC, a wholly-owned CIRI subsidiary. Fire IslandWind has a power purchase agreement with Chugach Electric Association to generate up to 17.6 MW of power at a flat net price of $97/MW-hour for 25 years. CIRI could expand the project by constructing up to 22 additional turbines if there is sufficient market demand. 
The Fire Island Wind project was first contemplated in the late 1990s when Chugach Electric Association officials realized that they needed to diversify Railbelt Alaska’s power system to reduce its overdependence on a single, diminishing resource, Cook Inlet natural gas. CIRI joined the project a decade ago and eventually developed what is now Alaska’s largest privately financed power project. 
Fire Island Wind hired Upwind Solutions to help operate and maintain the wind farm. Developing and constructing the project involved nearly 100 businesses, most of which are either based or have substantial operations in Southcentral Alaska. The project created more than 100 local project development and construction jobs this year. Anchorage-based Northern Powerline Constructors Inc., for example, built the terrestrial power lines that connect the wind project to the Railbelt electric grid. Wasilla-based Cruz Construction Inc. installed the submarine transmission cable to connect Fire Island to Anchorage. Cook Inlet Tug and Barge Co. transported wind turbine components and construction equipment and materials to and from Fire Island. The Delaney Group, a Tetra Tech company and nationwide construction company that specializes in wind projects, contracted with more than 25 Alaska vendors, subcontractors and unions. 
Fire Island Wind will produce long-term, local economic benefits by giving residents and businesses access to sustainable, stable-priced power. It brings a new industry into the region. It will generate ongoing tax revenue for local government. And it creates ongoing jobs and revenue for CIRI and other regional businesses that support the local economy. 
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2012 Project Timeline

– Tower offload on Fire Island
– Blade offload
– Transmission Cable offload at Point Mackenzie
– Tower foundation began
– Submarine transmission line work
– Turbine construction began
– Turbine construction complete
– First power delivered to Chugach
– Testing and commissioning of turbines

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