Four communities in the Alaksan town of Kongiganak have developed an advanced microgrid that has substantially cut the costs of heating their homes.
Puvurnaq Power Co., the local illage’s utility, built the microgrid. The village is a member of the Chaninik Wind Group, a collection of four communities working together to build new energy systems, KYUK-AM reported Monday.
Kongiganak and the other villages get their power from a hybrid system using diesel and renewable energy.
Five wind turbines provide Kongiganak with about 25 percent of its power needs, on average. But what makes those turbines special is their connected use to residents’ thermal stoves.
The stoves are hooked up to the village’s microgrid, so excess energy that the wind turbines generate is diverted to them. On windy days, the turbines typically produce more power than the grid can use, making the stove system highly cost effective.
Village resident Ralph Kiunya said the stoves are what cut cost by about 50 percent.
“Over 90 percent of our community relies on subsistence, and the savings they’re getting is going to putting more food on the table,” said Roderick Phillip, manager of Puvurnaq Power Co.
The utility company is installing more thermal stoves and a bank of lithium batteries this month.