CIRI's Fire Island Wind Farm, a remote site off the coast of Anchorage, is already exceeding expectations for power production. UpWind Solutions and CIRI have worked together to ensure the turbines are available when the wind is blowing and the community needs the power. Chris Rose, the Exeuctive Director of Renewable Energy Alaska Project, states that "Fire Island is displacing more natural gas than would be used in 4,000 homes over the course of the year."
Natural gas prices near Anchorage are expected to rise in the next few years due to the increase in demand and limited supply. The local supply of natural gas will have to be supplemented by imports that will drive up prices. Since "70% of the state's population lives in this part of Alaska and uses 80% of its electricity" (Suzanne Gibson, CIRI Senior Director of Energy Development), the Fire Island wind farm will be able to offset those costs and maintain consistent pricing of wind power. CIRI's Fire Island Wind Farm will offset 500 million cubic feet of natural gas each year.
One of the challenges that UpWind faces with Fire Island is operating the wind farm during the harsh winter months when it is needed most by the local communities. UpWind Solutions has been manageing the operations & maintenance (O&M) since the wind farm went live but also has recently installed their assetONE(TM) platform to optimize the maintenance schedule and monitor the turbines in order to predict and prevent failures.
The goal is to "plan maintenances in the summertime when our revenues are the lowest so that the project is in top operating condition during the winter time" says Suzanne Gibson, CIRI Senior Director of Energy Development. The ability to predict failures, plan maintenance during the lowest revenue periods, and ensure the health of the turbines during the peak usage months is a component of UpWind's reliability-centered maintenance approach that will increase revenue, reduce costs, and keep the turbines running for CIRI.