Alternative energy is energy or fuel, used
for heat, electricity or mechanical power,
which is derived from renewable or local
sources other than liquid petroleum. The two
energy strategies are often cited specifically
in funding and grant programs.
“One such example is the Renewable En-
ergy Fund [REF] grant program, which was
created by the legislature in 2008 and which
has funded approximately $257 million in
projects over eight rounds of funding be-
tween 2008 and 2015,” says Katie Conway,
AEA government relations, outreach, and ef-
“The communities we serve have historically benefited from grants and direct capital appropriations. In light of the shifting
budgetary reality, we are now more strongly
focusing our efforts to guide project development, act as a funding and financing conduit,
and continuing to provide critical technical
assistance, including for the development,
construction, and on-going care of renewable
energy projects,” says Conway.
Alaska’s primary renewable energy is hydropower, with an increasing amount of wind
and localized biomass as well as a small scale
of solar, according to Conway, who notes that
not all renewable resources can be developed
in an economic way. “Some resources are located far from population centers and not all
are available in all communities,” she explains.
According to the Alaska Energy Data Inventory, which details the location of renewable resources, the western parts of the state
have attractive wind resources, the southeast
has substantial hydro potential, and biomass
is more readily available in the forested parts
of the state.
The Renewable Energy Landscape:
What’s in Play and What’s to Come
Alaska is brimming with renewable energy
options. In fact, it may be a global leader in the
renewably energy arena, according to Shaina
Kilcoyne, energy efficiency director at the Renewable Energy Alaska Project (REAP).
“Alaska has some of the best renewable
energy potential in the world. With over 200
‘islanded microgrids [ 40 percent of rural mi-
crogrids worldwide], Alaska is a leader in the
development of small successful grid hybrid
systems,” says Kilcoyne.
Currently seventy Alaska communities
offset high electric costs using wind and
other renewables tapping diesel systems, she
says, and Alaska has more than 150 stand-
alone electrical grids serving rural villages.
AVEC has been using wind energy since
2003 and operates eleven wind farms, all
utility-owned, serving fifteen communities in
“We are building two more projects that
will then serve another five communities.
We have two modest solar projects as well.
Renewables provide between 3 percent and
35 percent of diesel displacement in the com-
munities that have them,” says Kohler.
Despite all the big steps to tap renewable
energy, future potential could be hampered
due to declining government support. The
REF, for example, has not received legislative
funding since 2015. “We think the sector is
growing cautiously. Of course, most of the
Hooper Bay wind turbines.
Photo by Barry Bryan
Three 100 k W turbines at Quinhagak.
“The communities we serve have historically benefited from
grants and direct capital appropriations. In light of the shifting
budgetary reality, we are now more strongly focusing our efforts
to guide project development, act as a funding and financing
conduit, and continuing to provide critical technical assistance,
including for the development, construction, and on-going care of
renewable energy projects.”
Government Relations, Outreach,
and Efficiency Manager, Alaska Energy Authority