Turbines rising at wind farm on Anchorage’s Fire Island
July 19, 2012
By Lisa Demer | Anchorage Daily News: Look hard to the west from mainland Anchorage. The horizon is changing fast. Tall towers are rising up on Fire Island as Cook Inlet Region Inc. builds its long-talked-about wind farm. By the end of September, it is expected to be producing electricity — the first megawatt-scale wind project in Southcentral Alaska.
From select vantage points at Kincaid Park, the Coastal Trail, the Hillside and even the overlook at the Glen Alps parking lot, the poles look like tiny toothpicks, small enough to mask with a thumb.
Up close, the wind turbines are giants. Towers of steel 262 feet tall at the hub. Blades of fiberglass and balsa wood 131 feet long. Foundations for each poured with 340 yards of concrete reinforced with massive rebar cages. Anchor bolts 11 feet long, 140 of them per tower.
In all, CIRI is building 11 turbines at its Fire Island wind farm and has permits for up to 33. The long blades will rotate at 18 to 21 revolutions per minute. At the tips, they’ll be moving at 100 mph or faster.
It expects to start selling the power to Chugach Electric Association starting Sept. 30. With a capacity of just under 18 megawatts, the project is expected to generate just 4 percent of the power that Chugach sells to retail customers. But it’s a landmark for renewable energy advocates.