Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary
August 18, 2006
|Cason Announces IEED Wind Energy Development Grant Award to Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Inc.|
(WASHINGTON) – Interior Associate Deputy Secretary James E. Cason today announced that the Indian Affairs Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED) has approved a $128,000 grant to the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Inc. (APIA), a non-profit tribal organization in Anchorage, Alaska, to develop a deep penetration, hybrid wind/diesel electrical generating regime for six federally recognized Alaska Native communities located along the state's Aleutian Island chain.
"It is no exaggeration to say that the very survival of these insular Aleut communities, let alone sustainable economic development there, depends upon their obtaining more affordable energy sources," said Cason. "Up to now, they have been helpless in the face of ever-rising diesel fuel costs. Development of wind energy to supplement their diesel-driven electrical generators is bringing new hope to these communities."
The grant will allow APIA to continue its Alternative Energy Development Program, started with an IEED grant last year, which aims to address the energy needs of its member villages of False Pass, King Cove, Nikolski, and Sand Point and the Pribilof Island communities of St. George and St. Paul. To meet their energy needs, residents, who make their living largely from fishing and subsistence activities, must import diesel fuel for their generators. But diesel's price has spiraled by 12 percent since October 2005, and the villages' cost to produce electricity has risen from $2.80 per gallon to between $3.11 and $3.14 per gallon.
However, wind speeds where the villages are located are considered ideal for commercial wind energy development. On the U.S. Department of Energy's rating scale for commercial wind energy, which ranges from Class 1 to Class 7 with Class 7 being the highest, wind speeds within APIA's service area have been measured within the Class 7 category of 8.8 meters per second or higher. With few exceptions, the wind speeds along the entire Aleutian Island chain fall within the Class 7 category.
In 2005, IEED funding helped APIA collect wind resource data from the Alaska Energy Authority and local utilities in St. George, King Cove, False Pass, and Nikolski, and paid for the training of wind/diesel power plant operators in all six villages. The grant also enabled APIA to conduct public information meetings and compile environmental documentation required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
This year's funding will pay for many of the technical steps needed to be undertaken before wind turbines can be installed in the targeted communities such as conducting an eagle monitoring study to address requirements of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), holding two community meetings to examine the impact of installing two Vestas 500-kilowatt wind turbines at Sand Point village, as well as documenting residents' comments from these meetings and providing information to address any concerns, and continuing work on the Sand Point Environmental Assessment.
The grant also will provide funding to assist the Native Village of Nikolski in designing a greenhouse to utilize any excess electricity produced from the wind turbine it will receive next year for growing produce for its Native store.
It is projected that, as a result of IEED's assistance, the Sand Point, St. George, King Cove, Nikolski, and False Pass villages will be able to complete the prerequisite technical steps to developing wind energy in their communities by the end of this year. Timing is critical for the St. George village whose existing diesel electrical generating plant is expected to expire soon thereby requiring its hybrid wind/diesel facility to be completed earlier than the others. Another village, King Cove, is seeking to add wind turbines to its existing hydro/diesel generating plant to become Alaska's first wind/hydro/diesel power plant.
The Alaska Energy Authority and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utility Service are funding the purchase and installation of the wind turbines for these communities.
The grant will be administered under IEED's 477 Program, established in 1994 under the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Act (Public Law 102-477), which allows federally recognized tribes to combine funds from up to 12 federal employment, training and welfare reform programs administered by Interior and the Departments of Education, Labor (DOL) and Health and Human Services (DHHS) into a single, tribally operated program with a single reporting system. Participating tribes can devote up to 25 percent of their total 477 funding for economic development projects to provide employment opportunities for their members.
The Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development was established to provide high-level support for the Department's goal of serving tribal communities by providing access to energy resources and helping tribes stimulate job creation and economic development, and supporting the President's National Energy Policy by fostering development of domestic energy resources to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign energy sources.
For more information on the IEED grant award or the 477 Program's economic development features, contact Jack Stevens, Chief, Division of Economic Development, Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development, at (202) 208-6764. For information on the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Inc., and their member villages, visit www.apiai.com.