Skystream 3.7 wind turbines help offset electricity costs of water treatment plant

Skystream 3.7 wind turbines help offset electricity costs of water treatment plant

Saving money, fostering self-sufficiency in a rural Alaskan community  

Southwest Windpower completed another successful micro-grid project in Goodnews Bay, Alaska, one of the state’s poorest communities last month. In conjunction with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), supplier and installer Susitna Energy Systems, All Alaska Electric and the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC), three Skystream 3.7 wind turbines were erected to offset the high costs of electricity demanded from ANTHC’s water treatment facility.Skystream 3.7 on site in Goodnews Bay, AK

A very exciting project for Southwest Windpower, the three 70-foot (21-meter) guyed wire turbines will make use of the Bay’s cold, dense and robust wind resources from the Bering Sea to offset electrical power demands of the two-year-old water facility. In the long run, the systems will be contributing to improving the lives of the 250 residents by providing water sanitation and sustainable health improvements. In high wind conditions, the Skystreams’ excess energy will be distributed amongst the village through an agreement with AVEC.

In just a few days after installation, the turbines were producing almost half of the electricity the water plant was consuming, according to John Warren, P.E., engineering services director of ANTHC’s Division of Environmental Health and Engineering (DEHE). Between electricity and fuel supply for heating, the operational energy costs for the water plant are about $21,000 per year.

The turbines are projected to offset 75 percent of diesel fueled energy consumption of the facility, according to John Nichols, manager of the Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative (ARUC), the managing body of 24 Native Alaskan villages electricity.  

The Skystream’s are expected to produce an average of 1,300 kWh per month, according to Warren. The wind resource in the summer is not as prevalent in the region as it is in the winter months.  Based on the wind turbines performance in these conditions, the realized benefit of the system will dramatically vary daily, monthly and seasonally.  
Alaska’s high-cost of living

Alaska has some of the highest electricity and gasoline prices in the country, according to the Institute for Energy Research. Prior to the Skystream’s installation, the village was entirely dependent on diesel generators. The village is only accessible by means of boat or air, which inflates the cost of diesel to around $5.30 per gallon, costing about $8,000 per year for the water plant. Electrical costs are unreachable for most, who pay anywhere from $200-$500 a month.  According to the state Labor Department, the cost of energy increased 10.8 percent last year. Three times over the decade, energy prices have risen even more.

Why Skystream?

Susitna Energy Systems won the bid with ANTHC to work on the project in Goodnews Bay. Working with Southwest Windpower for a number of years, Susitna Energy Systems endorses the Skystream turbines due to their easy installation and maintenance. ANTHC chose the Skystream systems based off of its proven performance in another remote coastal Alaskan village of Perryville, where 10 Skystream’s were successfully implemented. Succeeding the installation, residents relish the turbines ease of maintenance and monitoring. A very user-friendly easy-to-understand interface allows the Skystream to prevail when compared to other more complicated, technical-based wind systems that require professional management.

Due to the geographical coastal location, wind energy is abundantly available. Solar energy is limited because of cloud cover and fog.

Average annual wind speeds range from, 7.5 m/s (16.7 mph), according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The Skystream is engineered to begin energy production at 3.5 m/s, making the system ideal for the region.

Getting a feel for Goodnews Bay

One of the most rural, remote parts of the United States, Goodnews Bay is tucked away 500 miles west of Anchorage. For those who live on Goodnews Bay, the every day luxuries of super markets and shopping malls are non-existent. The average cost of fuel is around $6.36 per gallon. The coastal, Tribal village lives a subsistence-based lifestyle, living off the land as much as possible. Fishing and hunting are the primary sources of food that contribute to local diets.

The average household income ranges from $12,000 to $20,000, according to ANTHC. Medium income is about $16,250 with 39 percent of residents living below the poverty level, according to ARUC. Most jobs surround the small local store, school, and post office with some commercial fishing positions.   

Until ANTHC installed the multi-million dollar water treatment facility, which consists of a treatment plant, water distribution and sewage collection system and lagoon, the village lacked running water and was deemed a “Honey Bucket” community. Human waste could only be removed from homes by means of buckets. Running water was in one centralized location, the community washeteria. Due to ANTHC’s fervent effort, residents have the ability to have in-home plumbing, fresh running water and water distribution. And now our Skystreams’ are apart of the historical transition of an otherwise primitive Tribal culture.

Looking into the future

This three Skystream 3.7 wind system will be monitored in the coming months by ANTHC in order to develop other renewable-based systems, which may include hydropower, solar and micro hydro, according to Warren. 

Want to find out if wind is right for your community? Take a wind energy assessment today to start harnessing the power of wind. Or contact your local dealer.

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