On Thursday, Bethel’s Planning Commission will hold a special meeting to discuss an application from the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC). The utility is ready to move forward on its wind power project, and hopes to start preliminary groundwork at their new turbine site.
AVEC’s wind project has been in the works for several years, but was delayed again in August. They planned to build a 350-foot wind turbine in town, but were blocked by the Federal Aviation Administration, the organization saying that the turbine’s height could affect air traffic on approaches to the airport.
AVEC’s solution? Install a shorter wind turbine. According to CEO Meera Kohler, this will reduce the amount of energy that the turbine can produce by about 11 percent and will increase the cost of the project, but the move has satisfied the FAA's concerns.
The turbine will still be a 900-kilowatt machine, and Kohler says that it’s now projected to produce 1.9 million kilowatt hours of energy annually. That would displace about 5 percent of Bethel’s diesel usage.
AVEC is now going back to the City for a permit under Bethel’s “Tall Tower” ordinance. The Planning Commission will look at the application Thursday at 6:30 p.m.