For wind power, let’s learn from Alaska

For wind power, let's learn from Alaska Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski, re: recent Alaska-Yukon intergovernmental talks If Yukon could get formal assistance in the sharing of information about all the wind-diesel and other renewable energy proje

Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski, re: recent Alaska-Yukon intergovernmental talks

If Yukon could get formal assistance in the sharing of information about all the wind-diesel and other renewable energy projects in the Alaskan communities, it would help us get places like Old Crow, Burwash Landing-Destruction Bay and the Yukon grid off diesel as well.

Over the last five years, Alaskans have received $50 million per year to develop renewable energy and improve energy efficiency. It was recently announced that they will continue to receive this same amount for the next 10 years.

As a result of this funding they now have about 20 diesel communities with wind farms.

In Anchorage they have a 17.6 megawatt wind farm on nearby Fire Island that sells electricity at 9.7 cents per kilowatt-hour to the grid. At Eva Creek, about 100 kilometres south of Fairbanks, a 24.3 MW wind farm was recently commissioned and sells electricity to the grid at 8.6 cents per kWh.

Kodiak Island has recently doubled their wind farm to 9.2 MW where they’ve traditionally had a hydro-diesel only energy system. The wind farm is producing at about 12 cents per kWh.

In Juneau the power company offers different rates for customers who wish to defer their heavy electrical needs, like space heating and hot water, to off-peak hours. They also offer a pilot program for some customers to recharge electric vehicles during the night from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

In southwest Alaska there are three villages that are using electrical thermal storage (ETS) to heat homes and absorb the intermittent wind energy there. This allows these communities to absorb the maximum amount of wind energy for space heating while stabilizing the grid.

They also have several important organizations like the Renewable Energy Alaska Project, the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, the Wind Diesel Applications Centre and others to help support these projects.

Every year they hold several conferences and workshops to bring together and share information on the ongoing energy-related activities in the state.

Several aspects of these projects in Alaska could really benefit us in developing renewable energy in this territory.

The interconnection to Skagway is a great idea, but it’s still a long way off with a 10-year lead time on any new hydro, and I’m pretty certain that Haines, Alaska would be higher priority than Yukon for any new capacity on the system.

In the meantime, a wind farm on Mount Sumanik could be built in a two-year timeframe. The ETS technology could be implemented starting this year. I know that two homes already have ETS and there is a local distributor. The technology would work well with intermittent wind energy, allowing wind power to be stored and used for space heating.

ETS can replace a lot of oil furnaces in the territory and help Yukon meet its greenhouse emission reduction target. And the technology is safer and quieter than oil burners.

With Alaska’s help, we could really start to turn this train around!

J.P. Pinard

Whitehorse