Alaska municipal officers learn about renewable energy

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010

City and borough representatives from across the state got some exposure to existing uses of renewable energy in the state at the Alaska Municipal League's local government conference on Wednesday.

Stephanie Nowers, communications director for the Renewable Energy Alaska Project, addressed ways various renewable energy methods can be and are being used, so officials can get a better understanding of what the resources are.

"The conference is for mayors and leaders in communities that are struggling with high energy prices and uncertainty about where the energy is coming from. This is a chance to tell them about what communities in the state are already doing," Nowers said.

"The big picture statewide is there are a lot of good reasons to be using renewable energy. Alaska is heavily dependent on other sources and we pay some of highest energy prices in country. The cost of fuel is free with renewable."

Various methods of renewable energy are available in Alaska, including wind power, geothermal, biomass, hydro, tidal and wave energies. Nowers pointed out 24 percent of Alaska's electricity comes from hydropower.

She also said 20 communities throughout the state generate wind power, with wind accounting for more than 20 percent of power for some municipalities, such as Kasigluk.

"It's good for people to know there's a lot of renewable energy in the state, and a lot of communities are looking at it as a way to stabilize their energy costs," she said.

She said Kodiak Island is Alaska's biggest success story with wind power, cutting its diesel fuel use in half. Nowers told the statewide representatives about Alaska's Wind for Schools program that produced a wind turbine for the United States Coast Guard with the help of Juneau's high schools. She said a similar plan is underway for a wind turbine in Sitka.

Other Juneau examples are the plans for a ground source heat pump at the airport to reduce its oil use. There's similar heat pump usage at the Dimond Park Aquatic Center.

She also educated them on the Renewable Energy Grant Fund, a statewide fund created in 2008. She said it's allocated about $157 million to more than 130 projects across the state so far, with about half of that going to wind projects.

She also talked about the renewable energy production tax credits that were proposed during last year's legislature. She said these would give corporate tax credits for producing renewable energy and would be for large-scale projects and not homes. She said these credits' proposal will likely be reintroduced this year.

REAP is a nonprofit organization based in Anchorage that works in education and advocating for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

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• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at

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