Project Overview

Chaninik Wind Group

Kwigillingok, AK

Project Title:
Installation of Village information System and Renewable Energy Network Controller, Thermal Stoves and Meters to Enhance the Efficiency of Wind-Diesel Power Generation in Four Lower Kuskokwim Alaska Villages

Type of Application:

DOE Grant Number:

Project Amounts:
DOE: $750,000
Awardee: $1,250,000
Total: $2,000,000

Project Status:

Project Period of Performance:
Start: June 2010
End: March 2012


The goals of this project are to reduce the consumption of fossil fuel by 40% in four Lower Kuskokwim Alaska villages and use wind energy to displace 200,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 70,000 of which is now being used to generate power, and 130,000 of which will be captured and stored for use as heat. The project will benefit the tribal communities with fuel savings, increased revenues to each local utility, and reduced heating cost, as well as enable utilities and customers to control costs. Culturally and socially, the project will create jobs and increase local employment.

Project Description


The Chaninik Wind Group ("the Group") was formed by the United Tribal Governments of Kongiganak, Kwigilliingok, Tuntutuliak, and Kipnuk, Alaska. The Group also includes local utility managers and energy consultants. The Group represents more than 2,000 tribal members in the lower Kuskokwim region of southwest Alaska. The Group was formed in 2005 because tribal leaders realized that only by working together could they survive the impacts of increasing fuel costs and begin to harness the renewable energy resources available in the region. The Group hopes to reduce dependency on diesel fuel, lower energy costs and foster opportunities for economic development in their communities.

The Chaninik Wind Group was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2005, with the understanding that without harnessing renewable resources communities cannot survive the impacts of increasing fuel costs, and that only as a group of like-minded communities working together could they make that happen. After considerable efforts, the Group has concluded that to be successful, wind energy development must be approached at a scale sufficient to support multiple installations, lower energy costs, create fuel displacements significant enough to support a trained staff, and enable the creation of a regional service center in Kongiganak.

Project Objectives

Through the use of meters in individual homes, tribal members in the four villages will gain skills and awareness about managing their personal energy use. They will be able to switch to low-cost, wind-generated power when it is available. Meters will likely change the energy use and behavior of residents and encourage conservation of energy, such as weatherization of homes and reduced use of high-wattage appliances or light bulbs.

Project objectives are:

  • Adapt electric thermal storage devices to capture excess wind energy (wind system outside the scope of the DOE agreement) to stabilize the local power grid and reduce energy costs in tribal residences.
  • Install a Smart Grid Controller and automated metering system, which will interface with the village power system to optimize the use of wind energy.
  • Improve energy information through improved metering, information management and Web-based communications.
  • Install smart electrical meters in homes in each village.
  • Install 20 to 30 thermal stoves in each village (90 total).
  • Train local residents to install and maintain stoves, meters and information system.
  • Create local capacity to manage and maintain village wind smart grids.
  • Foster opportunities for long-term stable energy supply, lower costs and new businesses.


This project enhances a community high-penetration wind-diesel construction project by adding a Renewable Energy Network Controller, thermal stoves and meters. The overall system consists of:

  • An integrated renewable energy network, or "Smart Grid" Controller
  • A Web-server based Smart Meter Management and Accounting System
  • Self-regulating controller for Electric Thermal Storage (ETS) devices that will enable ETS devices to autonomously absorb excess wind energy and stabilize the local power grid
  • Smart electrical metering systems in 500 homes
  • Installation of electric thermal energy storage units in 90 homes to capture excess wind energy as heat.

The proposed high penetration wind-diesel renewable energy network controller is a control device which interfaces with the power system controls, the community loads, and the smart metering system, to increase the use and absorption of excess wind energy into electric thermal storage devices in tribal residences. This controller can be scaled to incorporate more wind, photovoltaic and thermal storage to each home.

Currently, wind diesel power systems are under construction in Kongiganak, Kwigillingok, and Tuntutuliak. Construction in Kipnuk is scheduled to begin construction in 2011. Each system includes:

  • Five 90 kW Windmatic S-17 wind turbines
  • Wind-diesel control integration upgrades
  • Heat recovery boiler for community heating
  • ETS devices in 21–30 homes
  • A smart metering system.

The Smart Grid controller is necessary for efficiently linking the various components of the power system together and to support new services for customers. The Smart Grid controller will enable the operation of devices such as electric thermal storage and, in the future, other smart home devices to optimize with the available energy produced by the wind diesel system.

The metering system will not only serve as a communications pathway but must also keep track of two types of electricity, green or excess wind and diesel-generated electricity. It is the Group's desire to also provide in-home display so customers can keep track of their costs and energy uses.

The intelligence of the smart grid is in the ability of the software and hardware of the utility meters, the power plant supervisory controller and the thermal stove controllers to communicate with each other. The Smart Grid consists of a network of advanced meters that receive information about the availability of green or excess wind energy, make this energy available to the community at reduced rates, and enable devices to capture this energy. The smart metering and the stoves create a system that allows wind energy to be sold as heat for half the cost of diesel heating.

Project Location

The Chaninik Wind Group was formed by the United Tribal Governments of Kongiganak, Kwigilliingok, Tuntutuliak, and Kipnuk, in the lower Kuskokwim region of southwest Alaska. Thermal stove installation will take place in each of the four participating villages.

Project Status

This project is complete. For details, see the final report.

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's fiscal year 2009 funding opportunity announcement, "Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Deployment in Indian Country," and started in June 2010.

The November 2009, October 2010, November 2011 and November 2012 project status report provides more information.