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Wind Cooperative of the Year Award Goes to Rural Alaska

ANAHEIM, California, February 26, 2008 (ENS) – A electricity cooperative that serves 53 small, native villages in rural Alaska and is using wind power to reduce dependence on diesel power today was declared the winner of the 2007 Wind Cooperative of the Year Award.

The Alaska Village Electric Cooperative of Anchorage, Alaska, received the award at the annual convention of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, NRECA, at the Anaheim Convention Center. The association represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide electric service to more than 37 million people in 47 states

This annual award, in its seventh year, recognizes the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, AVEC, for leadership, demonstrated success and innovation in its wind power program.

The award was applauded by Andy Karsner, U.S. Department of Energy, DOE, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“With Department of Energy support, unprecedented growth rates in emissions-free, affordable wind production will increasingly help meet the nation’s rapidly growing demand for energy,” Karsner said.

AVEC currently has 990 kilowatts, kW, of installed wind generating capacity in four of the communities it serves.

Two of these communities, Toksook Bay and Kasigluk, represent the first field deployment of the Northwind 100/20 wind turbine – a 100 kW, 20-meter rotor diameter turbine designed for deployment in cold and harsh climates. Designed and developed in conjunction with the Department of Energy, this turbine received an R&D 100 award in 2000.

The AVEC wind turbines are producing up to 25 percent of the annual electricity needs for Toksook Bay and Kasigluk.


AVEC wind turbines in Toksook,
Alaska (Photo courtesy AVEC)

“Alaska Village Electric Cooperative is very pleased that DOE and NRECA are recognizing our efforts to meet the challenges of developing wind power in remote Alaskan villages,” said AVEC president and chief executive Meera Kohler. “We see a drop of diesel not burned as a drop of diesel saved. AVEC will continue to pursue wind as aggressively as we can afford to.”

The U.S. has had the fastest growing wind power capacity in the world for the last three years in a row, and is anticipated to become the world leader of total installed wind capacity by the end of 2009.

On the eve of the convention, electric cooperatives in 11 states got the green light from the Internal Revenue Service to issue Clean Renewable Energy Bonds worth $143 million.

Bond awards to cooperatives ranged from $300,000 to $30 million. Approved projects include 14 wind projects, five landfill gas projects, six hydropower projects; one solar project and one open-loop biomass project.

AVEC says all six applications it submitted for the bonds were approved, for a total of $6.16 million. The applications asked for allocation of federal bond fund proceeds for potential wind generation projects in the communities of Gambell, Chevak, Savoonga, New Stuyahok, Mekoryuk and Hooper Bay.

As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program provides electric cooperatives and other not-for-profit utilities incentives to invest in renewable generation resources.

Comparable to the production tax credit available to investor-owned utilities, Clean Renewable Energy Bonds provide low-cost capital for renewable energy facilities because the government provides tax credits to the purchasers of the bonds.

“Most of the nation’s renewable energy resources can be found in the service territory of cooperatives,” said Glenn English, chief executive of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “Clean Renewable Energy Bonds are the financial instrument that allows cooperatives to unleash that power.”

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