KODIAK — Kodiak’s electric utility will expand its plans to incorporate wind as a power generator in response to the high cost of diesel.

Kodiak Electric Association board members voted last week to buy a third wind generator during the evaluation phase of their Pillar Mountain wind power project.

“With the price of fuel going where it’s going, the added generation is a good thing for our community,” said KEA president and chief executive Darron Scott.

It makes sense to purchase a third wind generator now instead of waiting because it’s likely to be more expensive later, Scott said.

“We feel the added generation is a cost benefit back to the community due to the cost of diesel,” Scott said.

KEA hopes to have six generators on top of Pillar Mountain within two years. The utility did not immediately buy three other generators because it’s not ready to manage more wind power on its grid.

“We have some limits on how far we can push the system,” Scott said. “Wind bounces up and down. So the electric generation coming out of wind bounces up and down. The system can only handle so much bouncing up and down.”

KEA is replacing power regulators at Terror Lake so that the electric plant eventually can adjust for wind fluctuations.

Wind generation is part of KEA’s plan to use 95 percent renewable energy by 2020.

Two wind generators were expected to produce 9.5 million kilowatts of power a year, about 7 percent of the current load.

A third will increase output to 12.2 million kilowatts a year, saving 830 gallons of diesel, Scott said.

Phase I of the project begins this summer when KEA starts construction on Pillar Mountain Road to accommodate the wind generators.

Each generator stands about 250 feet high, with 120-foot blades.

Construction of the generators is expected to take place in summer 2009.

If everything goes according to plan, KEA hopes to have the generators on line by fall 2009 and an additional three generators a couple years after that.