Friday’s high winds in Southcentral Alaska wreaked their fair share of havoc, but the timing couldn’t have been better for CIRI‘s Fire Island Wind Project as representatives appeared at an Assembly work session this morning to tout project benefits.
(Disclosure time: my wife has represented CIRI in a number of matters so, while I can sit in on an information session like today’s, if CIRI signs a contract to sell electricity to ML&P I’ll declare a conflict of interest and our ethics laws will prevent me from participating in deliberations and voting.)
CIRI representatives explained that as part of Alaska’s efforts to increase its supply of renewable energy this project has a lot going for it. First off, it qualifies for about $44 million in federal stimulus subsidy and $25 million in state subsidy, the latter slated for construction of a transmission line necessary to move electricity from Fire Island to the grid. Secondly, a weakened economy has allowed CIRI to achieve lower-than-expected construction and logistics rates. Combining the two, the expected Power Purchase Agreement cost per kilowatt hour is expected to be about $0.0995, or less than 10 cents. Because your monthly bill includes things like customer charges and undergrounding surcharges your utility would charge a higher rate than what they’d pay CIRI for the power, but it’s close to the rates you’re paying today and would be fixed for 25 years (as opposed to rates based on natural gas-fired generation, which everyone expects to escalate in future years).
All in all, this looks like a good step towards reducing Southcentral Alaska’s reliance on natural gas for electrical generation. There are plenty more details which I’d be happy to share (as would CIRI, I presume), but I’ll stop there for now.
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