Banner Wind LLC (Banner Wind) said that its 18-turbine, 1.2 megawatt (MW) wind farm in the Snake River Valley has begun producing power. The power produced is enough for 10% of the energy needs in Nome and is sold to Nome Joint Utilities System (NJUS) under a temporary power purchase agreement. The turbines were up and running from December 31, 2008 but the wind farm will be formally inaugurated on January 29, 2009. The plant was designed and built by Entegrity Wind Systems Inc. (Entegrity Wind)

We will sell it to them at below their cost to create a kilowatt, Banner Wind President Neal Foster, said. It will be up to them to decide how much of the savings to pass on to consumers.

NJUS also has plans for a big wind farm, one that will generate up to 3 MW, depending on wind conditions.

NJUS’s electrical grid is powered by diesel fuel, which costs commercial customers 38 cents per kilowatt-hour. NJUS has yet to determine how purchasing power from Banner Wind will affect consumer rates.

Bering Straits Native Corporation along with the Sitnasuak Native Corporation jointly own Banner Wind’s turbines.

Bering Straits Native Corporation Vice President Jerald Brown, said that Banner Wind sees the project as a way to benefit the community of Nome while returning the capital investment to the partners.

It should have an immediate downward impact on the cost to the utility to produce fuel and a leveling effect on the future cost as well, because the price of wind does not fluctuate, Brown said.

It’s not only a way to help cut (energy) costs, said Foster. We felt it was like putting our toe in the water, to become more and more self-sufficient. The intent is to add more to that, to increase our expertise and knowledge of alternative energy. The next step for us is to move into the villages. We want Nome to be the hub.