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Photos: Realizing Fire Island, Anchorage's first big wind power project

Crews use a crane to lift a Fire Island Wind turbine rotor into place on July 10, 2012. The wind turbines have a 262-foot-hub height with three 131-foot blades. All 11 turbines have been constructed and will start commercial operation in September 2012.
Courtesy CIRI / Oscar Avellaneda-Cruz
The Fire Island Wind project’s first phase includes 11 turbines. All 11 turbines will be tested and commissioned in September 2012.
Courtesy CIRI / Judy Patrick
A Fire Island Wind turbine nacelle sits at the base of its tower on August 9, 2012. All 11 turbines have been constructed and will start commercial operation in September 2012.
Courtesy of CIRI / Joel Irwin
Fire Island wind turbines under construction on July 18, 2012. The Cook Inlet Region Inc project is on track to be completed in September 2012, providing up to 4% of Anchorage's electric needs.
Loren Holmes photo
Turbine #1 is the first fully erected wind turbine on Fire Island. July 18, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Using Alaska's largest crane, a 600-ton owned by STG, crews erect a wind turbine on Fire Island. July 18, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Close-up of the first fully erected wind turbine on Fire Island. The first phase of the project, set to be completed this fall, consists of 11 turbines. July 18, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
CIRI President and CEO Margie Brown, right, and senior vice president Ethan Schutt in front of the first fully erected wind turbine on Fire Island. July 18, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Two submarine 34.5kV power lines terminating on Fire Island. In addition to power, each cable holds a bundle of 24 fiber optic strands. July 18, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Each turbine blade measures 131 feet, and the tower itself 262 feet. CIRI purchased the largest wind turbines possible within FAA restrictions. July 18, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Workers assemble a wind turbine on Fire Island. July 18, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Mid section intallation at Tower 6 of the Fire Island Wind Project. July 13, 2012
Courtesy CIRI / Oscar Avellaneda-Cruz
Wind turbines under construction on Fire Island, July 18, 2012. Phase 1 of CIRI's project comprises 11 turbines, and phase 2, if completed would bring the total to 33.
Loren Holmes photo
Hub and rotor installation at Tower 1 of the Fire Island Wind Project. July 13, 2012
Courtesy CIRI / Oscar Avellaneda-Cruz
A worker standing next to a tower section. Each turbine consists of 3 sections for a height of 262 feet. July 18, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Wind turbine components waiting to be assembled on Fire Island. July 18, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
An airplane taking off from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport passes over a wind turbine under construction on nearby Fire Island. July 18, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

The debate over whether to build a wind farm on Anchorage's Fire Island has raged since the 1990s. In 2000, Chugach approached CIRI about developing a Fire Island wind project. CIRI owns 3,600 of Fire Island's 4,000 acres on the six-mile-long island.

The wind farm was a viable option for the land because it wouldn't involve having to put in any permanent infrastructure, such as a causeway or bridge. The wind farm is one of Alaska's largest, but not the biggest. Golden Valley Electric Association's Eva Creek project will be a larger, with 16 turbines generating 24.6 megawatts.

Now, in September 2012, Fire Island's 11 wind turbines will soon supplement Anchorage's power supply.

READ MORE: Fire Island windmills could be adding power to Anchorage grid in weeks