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Exchanging wind for diesel in Alaska

An estimated 70 coastal villages in Alaska could successfully reduce their consumption of diesel by using wind power. The estimate comes from Brad Reeve, general manger of Kotzebue Electric Association (KEA), which has been using three 66 kW Atlantic Orient Corporation 15/50 turbines since May to augment the town's diesel power (Windpower Monthly, September 1997). He says the winds that sweep across the tundra and along the coasts are ideal. Indeed KEA is so pleased with its turbines it plans to add seven more sometime in 1998 to reach an estimated output of 1.5 million kWh yearly. KEA serves some 1200 customers and usually burns 1.45 million gallons of diesel a year. At $0.94 a gallon, the cost is $1.4 million a year. Winds in the town blow at an average 13.5 mph during a year. There have been start-up problems. In October, an AOC engineer travelled from Vermont to replace some defective wiring in the generators, while the rotary transformers also had to be worked on by a KEA technician. But the project is such a success, Reeve told the Arctic Sound newspaper, that the initial US government grant of $1.8 million for the project has now been increased by another $2 million.

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