Oil prices are still low, at least compared with three years ago, but Alaskans are pressing ahead with renewable energy projects to reduce dependence on fuel oil for power generation and, in some cases, space heating.
Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, which operates small utilities in 56 rural villages, has been aggressive in building wind generation and, more recently, linking projects to boilers and hot water loops to use surplus wind power for space heating.
AVEC now has 11 wind projects, operating 34 turbines, that serve 15 villages. Some communities connect with interties, so that one wind project serves two or more communities, according to Forrest Button, AVEC’s manager for project development. The co-op is now investing in more wind capacity: in Bethel in 2018 and St. Mary in 2019, and in 2020 at St. Michael and Stebbins, where one project will serve both villages, Button told Commonwealth North, an Anchorage-based business group, in a briefing on renewable energy.
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