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WASHINGTON, DC-The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced-in partnership with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)-its selection of the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) of Anchorage, Alaska, as the winner of the 2007 Wind Cooperative of the Year Award.  This annual award, in its seventh year, recognizes AVEC for leadership, demonstrated success and innovation in its wind power program.  AVEC provides electricity service to 53 small, native villages in rural Alaska and is specifically using wind power to reduce its dependence on diesel power.  In collaboration with the wind industry, DOE aims to develop and bring online more clean, domestic, and advanced wind energy technologies to help meet the rapidly growing demand for energy.

"With Department of Energy support, unprecedented growth rates in emissions-free, affordable wind production will increasingly help meet the nation's rapidly growing demand for energy," DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner said.  "We applaud the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative for its commitment to wind power development, and for building upon President Bush's commitment to dramatically increase the use of this clean and abundant source of energy."

AVEC currently has 990 kilowatts (kW) of installed wind-generating capacity in four of the communities it serves.  Two of these communities, Toksook Bay and Kasigluk, represent the first field deployment of the Northwind 100/20 wind turbine - a 100kW, 20-meter rotor diameter turbine specifically designed for deployment in cold and harsh climates.  This turbine, designed and developed in conjunction with DOE, received an R&D 100 award in 2000.  AVEC wind turbines are producing up to 25 percent of the Toksook Bay and Kasigluk communities' annual electricity needs.

"Alaska Village Electric Cooperative is very pleased that DOE and NRECA are recognizing our efforts to meet the challenges of developing wind power in remote Alaskan villages," AVEC President and CEO Meera Kohler said. "We share our success with Senator Ted Stevens.  His vision and dedication have allowed AVEC's wind program to develop. Without his support and the support of the Denali Commission, we would not have succeeded.  We see a drop of diesel not burned as a drop of diesel saved.  AVEC will continue to pursue wind as aggressively as we can afford to."

AVEC was one of six rural member-owned utilities nominated this year for the award, which was presented last week at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's TechAdvantage 2008 Conference and Expo in Anaheim, California.  Last Mile Electric Cooperative and Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative were also honored for their innovation and contributions to wind technology.  Last Mile is developing the 300-Megawatt (MW) White Creek wind project in Washington State, and when completed, will be the largest publicly developed wind project in the United States.  Wolverine, located in Cadillac, Michigan, has developed the state's first multi-megawatt wind project, Harvest Wind Farm in Huron County.

Previous awardees include Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (Oklahoma), Holy Cross Energy (Colorado), Basin Electric Power Cooperative (North Dakota) and Great River Energy (Minnesota).

DOE's Wind Powering America program aims to help the nation achieve targeted regional economic development, enhance power generation options, protect the environment, and help increase our energy security.  In 2007, the United States installed 5,240 MW of new wind power, a 45 percent increase over 2007.  The U.S. has had the fastest growing wind power capacity in the world for the last three years in a row, and is anticipated to become the world leader of total installed wind capacity by the end of 2009.  Of the total 16,820 MW of U.S. installed wind capacity, 85 percent-or 14,240 MW-have been installed since President Bush took office in January 2001.  The Wind Powering America website has more information on the Department's work to increase the use of wind power.

NRECA represents the nation's more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide electric service to more than 37 million people in 47 states and is dedicated to solving the business challenges of electric cooperatives through the use of technology applications. NRECA co-sponsors the Wind Cooperative of the Year Awards program with DOE's Wind Powering America program.

Media contact(s):

Tom Welch, (202) 586-4940