Wind project support builds

Public support for the Fire Island wind project continues to grow. On Feb.1, the Anchorage Assembly passed a resolution, AR-2011-38, directing Anchorage’s municipally owned utility, Municipal Light & Power (ML&P), to participate in a power purchase agreement with Fire Island Wind LLC, CIRI’s commercial-scale Alaska wind generation company. The resolution is the Anchorage Assembly’s response to projections that Southcentral Alaska and the Railbelt region’s usage of natural gas will exceed local supplier’s production by or before 2013.

The resolution also reflects local sentiment captured in a recent survey conducted by polling company Craciun Research Group. The survey revealed that nine in ten Railbelt ratepayers surveyed think that local and diverse sources of energy are very important. Public knowledge of dwindling natural gas supplies has also increased. The survey revealed that more than 85 percent of local ratepayers think diverse energy sources are very important.

More uncovered from the survey:

    • 96 percent of surveyed ratepayers think that stable energy pricing is important
    • 75 percent of surveyed ratepayers think that renewable energy resources are very important
    • 76 percent of surveyed ratepayers surveyed oppose importing liquid natural gas
    • 79 percent surveyed support flat-priced energy sourced from wind
    • More than 80 percent of surveyed ratepayers think that the Cook Inlet natural gas shortage is a serious or somewhat serious problem.

This public opinion survey shows that lessening local dependence on natural gas, Southcentral Alaska’s primary source of energy, is important to ratepayers. The Fire Island wind project could reduce the Railbelt’s dependence on natural gas by 1 to 1.5 billion cubic feet per year. The price of power that Fire Island Wind LLC is offering is competitive with expected gas prices when the project comes online and will not fluctuate with world energy prices while remaining a profitable investment.

The project will also help Alaska meet its goal of securing 50 percent of its energy needs from renewable resources by 2025. The Alaska Sustainable Energy Act (Senate Bill 220), signed into law by Gov. Sean Parnell June 16, establishes a statewide energy policy that sets energy goals and provides funding for renewable and emerging energy technologies.

The momentum for renewable energy in Alaska is in place, but the Fire Island wind project cannot move forward with construction on the island without cooperation from local utilities in the form of power purchase agreements. The project has qualified for grant funding that will lower the price of power to local ratepayers once the wind farm is operational, but without agreements in place with local utilities, the project risks losing crucial construction time and value to ratepayers.

To learn more about this local energy project and protecting Southcentral Alaska from volatile world energy prices, visit