Alaska Power & Telephone has been awarded $3 million by the US Department of Agriculture to construct a 1.8 MW wind farm near the community of Tok, Alaska.
The funds have been awarded through the High Energy Cost Grant (HECG) Programme and the total cost of the project will be approximately $10 million. AP&T aim to complete the financing deal with the next few months with remaining funds probably coming from private investment and loan funds. The company hopes to complete the project by the end of 2018, although the timeline is dependent on weather and other factors.
The 7-Mile Wind Project will be a 1.8 MW wind farm located in a Class 4 area adjacent to the Glenn Highway near Tok and will provide clean renewable energy to Tok, Tetlin, Dot Lake and Tanacross with a total population of around 1,500 people. Thus far, these communities have been totally reliant on highly expensive diesel-based electricity generation. The wind farm is expected to generate over 3.7 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of renewable energy per year, offsetting over a quarter million gallons of diesel fuel per year and generating annual carbon savings of more than 66.650 metric tons.
“AP&T is excited for this opportunity to partner with USDA to help provide our customers in the Tok region with more affordable home sourced energy” said AP&T President and CEO Robert Grimm. “7-Mile Wind will also help stabilize energy pricing by reducing our customer’s exposure to pricing volatility and cost-escalation with diesel fuel.”
Mr Grimm added that, as a utility, AP&T has a long-term commitment to the communities it serves. This requires a long-term, big picture approach to infrastructure planning. The company’s vision for Tok is to leverage a variety of technologies which will include the 7-Mile Wind Project as well as the 1.5 MW Yerrick Creek hydropower project near Tanacross. This in turn will help to improve the economics of subsequent transmission interconnections to other nearby communities such as Northway and Mentasta.
The project is part of a multi-technology approach to converting rural areas from diesel based generation to other sources of energy. The company is also conducting tests to help diversify fuel supply in the region. Currently, Alaska is far behind the rest of North America in terms of access to renewables, transmission interconnections and energy costs. The HECG is a vital tool for helping Alaskans to catch up with the rest of the US and come closer to socioeconomic parity.
AP&T is an experienced renewable energy developer which currently owns and operates seven small hydropower projects in rural Alaska, as well as the largest utility-owned solar power installation in the State. The company is in the process of constructing two additional hydropower projects; the Hiilangaay project on Prince of Wales Island and Yerrick Creek.