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Weekly Highlight for March 19, 2018


AEA Executive Director Reiser gave a conceptual presentation to the Railbelt Utility Managers (RUM) meeting regarding AEA’s proposed leadership role in setting up and administering a Unified System Operator (USO) for the Railbelt region.

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AEA Board approves Battle Creek Financing Package
Biomass Greenhouse Handbook
Susitna-Watana Legislative Report  2017
2018 Renewable Energy Fund Status report 




The Cost of Cold: When the only option is diesel

By  March 19, 2018

How much do you pay to heat your home in the winter?

This week, Alaska’s Energy Desk is kicking off a new series called The Cost of Cold, looking at how Alaskans across the state keep warm at home.

There are a lot of options. Electricity, natural gas, wood, coal… even french fry oil.

But in much of rural Alaska, and even some cities, the primary heating source is diesel, also called heating fuel.

Many families in some of Alaska’s largest cities, like Juneau and Fairbanks, rely primarily on heating fuel. In rural parts of the state, even more people do. Take the Nome area, for example where, 90 percent of households use heating fuel according to U.S. Census data.

And it is not cheap. Cady Lister is chief economist with Alaska Energy Authority, a state corporation that works to reduce the cost of energy.

If you are in a small isolated village that has to have fuel flow in, or even just barged in, but just at a high cost, you still are paying amongst the highest cost for heating fuel and for electricity in the country,” she said.

Just how high is the cost of heating fuel? It varies wildly across the state Lister says.

The state surveys communities on the cost of heating fuel twice a year. In the most recent survey, the lowest price was $1.40 in Atqasuk, on the North Slope, where the borough subsidizes the price.

And the highest was Shishmaref at a little over $15 per gallon, which is pretty astronomical,” she said.    More


Problems and Solutions in Unalakleet: Wind, Sun, Water

Could biomass be the future of energy in Juneau?

February 14, 2018 06:03 am - Updated February 15, 2018 08:56 am

Approach would use excess wood from other projects to replace heating oil, save money

Businesses and homes in Alaska are looking to find more efficient ways to heat their buildings, and multiple Juneau organizations have identified one possible solution: wood.

Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) Biomass Program Manager Devany Plentovich spoke at the Southeast Conference’s Mid-Session Summit on Tuesday about the future of using biomass in Juneau. Biomass represents any organisms that can be burned or somehow used to create energy (wood and crops are popular forms).

With the price of fuel oil rising in recent years, organizations are looking for other ways to heat their buildings. Two Juneau entities — Lemon Creek Correctional Center and Bartlett Regional Hospital — have expressed interest in using wood-fueled energy instead of heating oil.

“This is really early in the project development process,” Plentovich said. “One of the first steps is, we need to understand, where would the wood resource come from?”

The AEA, along with the U.S. Forest Service, is conducting a study into wood resources in Juneau. There are quite a few options for what’s called “urban wood waste,” Plentovich said.    More


Unalaska revisits wind power, hoping for a renewable energy source

By            February 21, 2018

Unalaskans know the island’s wind is strong — it can blow over 100 miles per hour.

Back in 2005, the city council funded a study to see if that wind could be used for power generation. The former city manager, Nancy Peterson, said that they basically concluded that it wasn’t possible because there was no technology strong enough to withstand Unalaska’s wind.

“We are now 12 years later,” Peterson said. “A lot of technology has changed. There have been a lot of tried and true wind projects throughout the state.”

In October 2017 the city decided to look into it again, and they sought out the help of Josh Craft of the Alaska Energy Authority.

“We all know that it is very windy here,” Craft said. “But we have to find the right wind resource and the quality of wind resource is very important.”

Craft has been advising the city since last fall.

During a recent visit to Unalaska, Craft drove around to look at places the city is considering placing wind turbines. He thinks there’s definitely potential here, but the crazy topography of this volcanic island does pose some challenges.    More

In rural Alaska, looking inside the home to reduce energy costs

By              February 2, 2018

In diesel-powered villages, electric bills can climb to several hundred dollars a month, especially in the winter.

So a batch of new energy assessors — who live in those communities — are being trained to spot areas of improvement around the home.

Alexis Wagner is looking down at a shiny black Samsung tablet. On it, there’s a list she’ll spend the next two hours filling out.

“When we go through the house, there will be appliance inventory, other plugins, windows,” Wagner explains.

Before we take off our shoes to enter this Juneau home, Wagner fills out the occupancy: there’s a woman who lives here with two small dogs. Even body heat is taken into consideration when evaluating energy efficiency.

She says just scrolling through this list, she’s getting her own ideas. “I have to make a lot of changes to my own house,” she says with a laugh.

Wagner works at the Metlakatla Indian Community as a grant writer. But after today, she’ll be able to do another task, and she’s not alone. Five people are in the group with her — learning this new skill.    More

News Releases from Region 10

EPA provides $1.3 million to states for diesel reduction efforts


SEATTLE -- Clean diesel projects throughout the Northwest and Alaska are receiving a $1.3 million boost from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grants from its Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program.

"Clean diesel technologies not only improve air quality, but advance innovation and support jobs,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "These projects will significantly reduce harmful emissions and directly benefit the health of residents.”

"By promoting clean diesel technologies, we can improve air quality and human health, advance American innovation, and support green jobs in economically disadvantaged communities, while growing our economy," said Chris Hladick, Regional Administrator for EPA's Northwest & Alaska Region. "Public-private partnerships like the West Coast Collaborative are leading the way on reducing harmful diesel emissions and creating jobs.”

The DERA program is administered by EPA's West Coast Collaborative, a clean air public-private partnership that leverages public and private funds to funds to complete important diesel reduction projects that reduce emissions from the most polluting diesel sources in impacted communities in West Coast states and U.S. territories.

Here’s what each state has received in this year’s funding from the EPA:

Alaska Energy Authority – AEA received $335,024, and is providing $362,942 in mandatory cost share and an additional $53,234 for a project total of $751,200. Funds will be used to complete four to six repowers and generator replacements in rural communities. The repowers and replacements will address antiquated mechanically governed prime power diesel ‘genset’ engines with newer, more fuel efficient Tier 2 and Tier 3 marine engines that reduce diesel emissions and save fuel. This project will reduce 4.2 tons of particulate matter, 46.4 tons of nitrogen oxides, 22.8 tons of carbon monoxide, and 603 tons of carbon dioxide over the lives of the engines.  More

New analysis out on renewable energy costs in rural Alaska

Many rural communities in Alaska have been experimenting with renewable energy systems in recent years, trying to reduce the amount of costly fuel they have to ship in. In late December, researchers at the Alaska Center for Energy and Power published a series of articles looking at how those technologies are doing, and what challenges remain in making them more cost effective.

The analysis includes data from wind, solar electric, biomass, and several other energy technologies that are currently in use in over 100 rural communities around the state.

Erin Whitney is one of the lead researchers. She says that renewable energies are helping to bring costs down in many rural areas, but there are still improvements to be made. One of the big takeaways from her team’s analysis is that the cost of maintaining renewable energy systems — not just installing them — can put a real burden on communities. She says that finding ways to streamline the maintenance process, or coming up with other ways to bring the cost of down is key to making renewable energy solutions sustainable in rural Alaska.

The research was made possible by a grant from the Alaska Energy Authority back in 2015. It was part of their effort to come up with recommendations for making energy more affordable in parts of the state that won’t have access to the proposed natural gas pipeline.   More

In Norway, Electric and Hybrid Cars Outsell Conventional Models

Sales of electric and hybrid cars in Norway outpaced those running on fossil fuels last year, cementing the country’s position as a global leader in the push to restrict vehicle emissions.

Norway, a major oil exporter, would seem an unlikely champion of newer, cleaner-running vehicles. But the country offers generous incentives that make electric cars cheaper to buy, and provides additional benefits once the vehicles are on the road.

Countries around the world have ramped up their promotion of hybrid and electric cars. As China tries to improve air quality and dominate new vehicle technology, the government there wants one in five cars sold to run on alternative fuels by 2025. France and Britain plan to end the sale of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by 2040.  More

Community Solar Project coming to Anchorage

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Anchorage may soon be home to the largest community solar project in Alaska. Chugach Electric is expected to spend around $2 million to construct a 2,000 solar panel field capable of generating 550 megawatt hours per year.

"There will be 500 shares available to members and each share will supplement about 15 percent to 17 percent of energy use," said Sean Skaling, Manager of Business & Sustainable Program Development for Chugach Electric.

After surveying nearly 700 Chugach Members, the co-operative found that 63 percent wanted to see solar projects developed, and 60 percent of those said they'd be willing to pay more for solar power once developed.

Interested Chugach Electric members will be able to buy the shares, which will increase their individual bills slightly, but will help build a more environmentally-friendly generation system.

"We think it's going to be about a $10-a-month (additional) premium, so on average you'll maybe see $25-a-month and you'll get $15 for a monthly premium of about $10 in solar," said Skaling.  More

Prince of Wales Island schools started growing food. Now first graders are binging on broccoli

By  December 12, 2017

One Southeast school district has been raising fruits and vegetables in greenhouses, because it’s easier to get kids to eat their greens if those children have grown those vegetables themselves.

And the district powers the project with renewable energy.

An elementary class in Coffman Cove is assembled for a morning lesson. But instead of desks in this classroom, there are UV lights and row after row of raised soil beds.

The district’s agriculture coordinator Cody Beus shows the class how to plant carrot seeds.

This past year the school built a 6,912-square-foot greenhouse.

Wood-fired boilers feed heat into the hydroponic system. The roots of the crops sit in heated water rather than soil.”  More

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