Opinion

Commentary: Compromise helps Fire Island wind project grow

This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.

Good news on the renewable energy front: Anchorage's first commercial wind energy project is going to get significantly bigger. The wind farm planned for Fire Island will go back to its original size: 36 towers with a total capacity of 54 megawatts. That's enough to power about 19,500 homes.

Project developers previously had to scale back the wind farm by a third, to avoid electronic interference with Fire Island navigation equipment serving Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

Now the airport and the wind farm developers, local Native corporation CIRI and its partner enXco, are working on a plan to upgrade and move the navigation system to a site on the mainland.

CIRI president and CEO Margie Brown announced in a newsletter last week:

"We learned in February that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) does not object to replacing the existing VOR (navigation system) with an upgraded 'dopplerized' VOR located off island, provided a public comment period demonstrates that the airport does not object, that no user groups will be adversely affected, and that appropriate studies demonstrate that public safety will not be compromised."

CIRI spokesman Jim Jager said Tuesday the company sees no problem meeting those conditions. Putting the new system on the mainland, probably on airport property, will make it more reliable, easier to maintain, and easier for pilots to use, he said. The current equipment actually guides aircraft to Fire Island, not to the airport itself.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.

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