Chugach to study wind generation potential in Portage
Chugach Electric Association is funding a $15,000 project to study the feasibility of generating electricity from the wind in the Portage area.
A 50-meter tower will go up next to the old Portage town site and will collect wind and weather information for up to 12 months. The data is stored electronically and transmitted via a cell phone call once a day to a computer at Chugach headquarters where it can be analyzed over time. A solar panel recharges the battery at the tower, but in the event the site cannot phone in for an extended period, the data is also stored on a computer disk which can be retrieved and downloaded.
The tower is a relatively small, lightweight temporary structure designed to be moved frequently. Each tower is built of sections of tubing. The installations have almost no impact on the land.
The current project expands an initial investigation Chugach began in 1998 in the Portage area using a single 40-meter tower. Over the past several years, Chugach has used its meteorological towers and masts to collect wind data at a number of locations in the Anchorage area as part of an investigation of whether conditions are right to support wind generation. The utility has not yet made a decision about whether or not it will attempt to install wind turbines at any of the sites that it has studied but has plans to begin installations when they are deemed viable both technically and economically. Customers can find more information and an interest form at www.chugachelectric.com.
"Wind generation is increasingly being looked at in the U.S. with many new projects in the development stages. It is growing at a rate of 25 percent each year. Chugach believes that there are likely to be opportunities to develop this renewable resource on land in the Anchorage area," said Joe Griffith, Chugach's General Manager.
Chugach is the largest electric utility in Alaska, providing power for Alaskans throughout the Railbelt through retail, wholesale and economy energy sales.