Kodiak Electric Association wins national award for wind project 

Kodiakwind by Jim Jager2

Pillar Mountain Wind Farm Fast Facts •Total kWhs Generated: 7,393,728•Gallons of Diesel Saved: 520,685•(Data as of Feburary 28, 2010)

Congratulations to Kodiak Electric for being named the 2009 Wind Cooperative of the Year by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Kodiak Electric is the second cooperative in Alaska to receive the award. The Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, which operates in 53 villages in Interior and Western Alaska, was honored as Wind Cooperative of the Year in 2007.

Kodiak was chosen for the award in recognition of its Pillar Mountain project in which they installed three turbines on Pillar Mountain last summer. Each turbine is capable of producing 1.5 megawatts, which makes them the most powerful in the state. So far, the turbines have kept the cooperative from having to burn more than 520,000 gallons of diesel fuel, which at $2 a gallon add up to more than a $1 million in savings. (See the latest stats here)  At times, the utility is 100% renewably powered using wind and power produced by its hydro facility. The total cost of the Pillar Mountain project was about $21.4 million, with $4 million of that cost paid for with a grant from Alaska’s Renewable Energy Grant Fund.

In a statement about the award, the DOE praised Kodiak’s Pillar Mountain project for paving “the way for large wind turbine manufacturers to do business in Alaska while gathering experience on integrating megawatt-sized wind energy systems into other isolated grid systems throughout the state.”

Kodiak Electric Association CEO Darron Scott told REAP that community support was a key factor for the project. “Kodiak was so supportive of the project,” he said. “This award really goes to three groups, the Community of Kodiak for their support, KEA Board of Directors for their vision and KEA’s employees and our contractors for their excellent work in making it happen.”

Before installing the turbines, the utility relied on a mix of about 80 percent hydropower and 20 percent diesel fuel. By adding wind power, the utility has insulated itself against price spikes in diesel fuel costs and helped businesses by stabilizing the cost of power. Kodiak Electric serves just about 4,000 commercial and residential customers on Kodiak Island.

A panel of wind industry, government, national laboratory, and electric cooperative experts selected Kodiak Electric Association for the award over eight other nominated electric cooperatives from across the United States.

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