Eva Creek Wind Farm, at 170 acres, is the largest wind project in Alaska. Located 14 miles north of Healy, AK in Ferry, Eva Creek is North America’s northern most operating wind generating facility. The wind farm is made up of 12 turbines creating 24.6 MW and is connected to an operating grid.
Eva Creek is a good example of a project’s success despite its remote location. The wind farm’s location highlights the role that design plays in resolving logistical issues related to transportation. Costs are significant due to the large size of turbines and the vast distances needed to transport them, in some cases, shipping the turbine towers to the Port of Anchorage and then trucking them over 250 miles to the project site, which sits at the end of a ten mile dirt road. These factors are fixed variables. One way to cut overall costs of the project, then, is to plan for alternate offset in costs. For example, prior to the establishment of the wind farm, the primary electricity sources used diesel and coal, which had to be transported by train. Golden Valley Electric Association, an Alaskan rural electric cooperative, sought to increase the amount of renewable energy produced and simultaneously decreasing the amount of non-renewable energy.
Building a windfarm so far north involves factors not encountered by more southern locations; in order to accommodate temperatures of 30 degrees below zero, site-specific materials such as heating units had to be integrated into the turbines. Eva Creek Wind Farm produces the electricity that helps power Denali’s administrative offices, the hotels and gift shops of Healey near the park’s main gate.
GVEA estimates that the 93 million dollar project, has already reduced its dependence on oil by the equivalent of 1.3 million gallons of diesel fuel in its first quarter of operation and will provide enough renewable energy annually to power more than 9,100 Interior Alaska homes each year. The project is expected to save Golden Valley members as much as $4 million in annual electricity costs in the first two years of operation.
GVEA won the 2013 Wind Cooperative of the Year Award from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Energy Department.
For more information, see: http://www.gvea.com/energy/evacreek
Photo credit: Golden Valley Electric Association