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Rural Energy Initiative innovations create energy savings for western Alaska

April 10, 2015


With the March installation of a “wind-to-heat” heating system at the Shaktoolik water and sewer utility, ANTHC’s Rural Energy Initiative is continuing to create innovative approaches to lowering the energy costs of operating rural water systems. “Wind-to-heat” systems use extra electricity generated from wind turbines during peak windy weather to heat water for use in Arctic sanitation systems by transferring the energy through electric boilers in the water treatment plant. Combined with other energy upgrades, the project in Shaktoolik is expected to save $40,000 per year, or 50 percent of current energy costs. This innovative technology, the first use of it in Alaska and perhaps in the country for public water systems, was developed by ANTHC in 2011 in partnership with the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, who sells the extra power at substantial discount to the community’s sanitation utilities. The western Alaska communities of Mekoryuk, Shaktoolik, Chevak, and Gambell were identified as locations where wind-to-heat projects would be a significant benefit and in 2011, these projects were funded by the Alaska Energy Authority’s Renewable Energy Fund. The facility in Mekoryuk started up in October 2014 and has transferred 9,252 kilowatt-hours to date with the potential savings of $40,000 annually. Chevak’s wind-to-heat system is currently being constructed and construction in Gambell is projected to begin in May.

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