Alaskans in need, solutions at hand: address rural energy needs today, conference attendees say.

Author:Cutler, Debbie
Position:ENERGY - Conference news - Editorial
 
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How would you like an energy solution that is fair to all Alaskans?

Would you be willing to take the step to pool all of the costs of energy together in a single unit, then have power companies buy back the assets and charge consumers equal amounts (with some adjustments to wasteful areas), no matter if you are in Bush Alaska or Anchorage?

How would you like your rates to rise or drop depending on where you live?

Is this the type of energy model we would like to go for?

"It would average out power costs," said Ross Coen of the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP), based out of Fairbanks. "It might be an energy solution for the energy crisis, the high cost of power, to rural Alaska in particular. It would not transfer assets. It changes the accounting structure, takes advantage of economics of scale. It would eliminate the need for PCE (Power Cost Equalization, an energy subsidy program)."

Coen said it was the role of ACEP to facilitate this discussion, which did not generate much enthusiasm with utility companies present, nor some in the audience. One attendee from rural Alaska, who would have benefited greatly, called it "socialistic." Coen said ACEP was neither in favor or opposed to this suggestion, just was bringing it to the table for discussion.

SOLUTIONS DISCUSSED

These were the types of energy solutions discussed at the 2010 Rural Energy Conference, themed "New Energy for Sustainable Communities," held in Fairbanks April 27 through April 29. Wind energy, geothermal, tidal and wave, and biomass were all brought to the table.

Nearly 100 towns and villages from every region in Alaska were represented, and almost 450 people were in attendance. Also in attendance were most of the Alaska Native Regional Corporations, and about 25 vendors.

"It is wonderful to have so many from around the state to all talk about sustainable energy throughout the state," said Luke Hopkins, mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

The Denali Commission was there, as was the Alaska Energy Authority, various electric associations, RurAL CAP, Green Energy Solutions, Lower Kuskokwin Economic Development Center and so many more organizations.

Topics ranged from "Energy in Alaska at the Federal Level," to "Innovative and Change in Energy Use in Rural Alaska," to "Diesel Efficiency," "Renewable Energy Fund and Other Projects" and about a dozen other topics, each with several speakers in concurrent technical sessions.

One such speaker was Jerry Isaac, president...

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