Alaska company aims to complete Fire Island wind farm

Cook Inlet Region Inc. recently lost its key partner in the Fire Island wind project, but the company plans to spend millions to get the wind farm built and generating electricity in Anchorage by the end of 2011.

Citing mismatched business goals as the reason for the split, the Anchorage Native corporation said that it and California-based EnXco, agreed to part ways in October. Until then, EnXco had been the developer of the 54-megawatt wind farm and CIRI's equity partner in the project.

CIRI said it hopes to sign a deal with another well-known wind farm developer in early December. CIRI can fund the project without an equity partner, if need be, said Ethan Schutt, a CIRI vice president for land and energy.

The parting with EnXco has not caused the project's timeline to slip, CIRI spokesman Jim Jager said.

He and Schutt pointed out that CIRI spent more than $1 million this fall clearing ground for the turbines and studying the geology of the rugged island.

One reason the company has been aggressive in its timeline is that the wind farm needs to be operating by 2012 to qualify for a federal stimulus grant that would pay roughly one-third of the turbine, transmission line and other construction costs.

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