SEACC joins push for renewable energy, hires coordinator

Posted: Sunday, January 10, 2010

JUNEAU - The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council today introduced Juneau resident Dan Lesh as their energy coordinator, a new position the organization will use to help advance renewable energy in Southeast Alaska.

"Developing a sustainable, affordable energy supply is the biggest challenge facing Southeast Alaska," Lesh said. "I'm excited to join with SEACC to assist community efforts throughout our region, especially in areas currently relying on diesel."

Lesh was born in Juneau and raised in Gustavus, a town that recently completed construction of a hydroelectric dam, enabling it to largely switch off the town's diesel generators. Before centralized power, Lesh's family operated its own generator to power their inn, started in 1965.

Lesh most recently worked as a nonpartisan policy analyst with the Alaska Legislature, focusing on energy and other issues. He attended the University of Alaska Southeast for several semesters then completed his bachelor's degree in biology at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

"Dan's understanding of rural Alaskans' connection to the land and what it takes to live in isolated Southeast communities will be a valuable asset as he helps us get Southeast Alaska off of diesel power and onto clean, sustainable and community focused renewable energy," said Lindsey Ketchel, SEACC's executive director.

SEACC has already been engaged in efforts to promote renewable energy in Southeast by bringing in energy experts to discuss Southeast Alaska's renewable energy potential, promoting energy conservation, and encouraging citizens to engage in state energy planning. By hiring a full-time coordinator, SEACC hopes to help communities get good projects moving by helping them navigate the various regulatory, funding and other hurdles in the process.

"We live in an incredibly powerful place, full of a wide range of renewable energy opportunities," Lesh said, "and the people of our region are committed to developing projects that give us the affordable energy we need with minimal impacts to the other resources that support our unique way of life, such as abundant fish runs and healthy forests. It's an incredible time to be working in this field."

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