University pushing for energy center

Posted: Thursday, January 29, 2009

FAIRBANKS - The University of Alaska Fairbanks wants to fast-track plans for building a $30 million center that can be used for energy research.

The university wants to build a 31,000-square-foot facility dedicated to studying the use of wind, hydrogen and even coal fired energy.

It would serve as the home to the 1-year-old Alaska Center for Energy and Power. The building sits on a short list of construction projects offered by the board of regents.

UAF chancellor Brian Rogers said a new building with an energy technology-driven mission would follow up on pledges to assist the state's efforts in significantly expanding its use of renewable energy.

Just recently Gov. Sarah Palin accentuated that goal when she announced her wish for half of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025.

"Energy issues were already there, (as was) the need for more space" for research and testing, Rogers said of the school's decision last year to create the Center for Energy and Power. "I think it became more acute as energy issues came to the fore."

The plan calls for the university to sell bonds to finance half of the cost and secure the rest of the money from a state grant.

The board would also like to land a five-year grant that would link the energy center with the state-operated Alaska Energy Authority on state-backed research projects.

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