Fairbanks cooperative denies wind farm request

FAIRBANKS — An electric utility cooperative serving the Fairbanks region has denied a request for interconnection from a company looking to build a wind farm.

Golden Valley Electric Association officials say the proposal was rejected because the wind farm proposed for the Delta Junction area would increase costs for the cooperative and its customers, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

GVEA had hired consultant Mike Hubbard to review Delta Wind Farm’s proposal, which was submitted in December, to determine its potential operational and financial impacts.

Hubbard’s study found it would cost nearly $20 million to purchase the fuel needed to regulate the 13.5-megawatt wind farm in its first year of operation. GVEA officials say that would have increased the cooperative’s fuel costs by about 15 percent and made customer energy bills go up.

GVEA Power Systems Manager Peter Sarauer said the study shows the amount of power Delta Wind Farm would generate “can swing wildly throughout the day.” He said this would require GVEA to generate regulation power in the event that the wind dies and turbines come to a halt.

To regulate the wind farm, GVEA would have to fire up two older diesel burning power generators in North Pole. These units are more expensive to operate and GVEA tries not to use these units whenever possible, Sarauer said.

Delta Wind Farm co-owner Mike Craft questions Hubbard’s cost analysis because he says it’s based off tariffs that are illegal. Craft is currently appealing the Regulatory Commission of Alaska’s approval of these tariffs in Superior Court.

Craft also takes issue with several other findings from the study, including graphs that show Delta Wind Farm’s energy output correlates with another Alaska wind project near Healy. Craft said his engineer conducted a study in 2010 showing Delta’s project would be a steadier source of power than what Hubbard’s study says.

Sarauer said Hubbard’s findings are available online on the Regulatory Commission of Alaska’s website.

“I think anybody that does their research on the topic would find that the evaluation and the research we did is accurate,” Sarauer said.

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