growth was instigated by grant funds from
state and federal sources, which have diminished greatly in recent times. As a result, expansion of the renewables segment in Alaska
has slowed but not stalled,” says Kohler.
How Renewables Benefit Rural
The primary benefits from renewable energy
are cost-effective and affordable energy for
residents and businesses—specifically in ru-
ral areas where using fuel, diesel mostly, is an
exceptionally expensive proposition.
About three-quarters of Alaska’s population live within the Railbelt region, says Conway, while another 10 percent live in southeast Alaska. The remaining eighteen percent
live throughout about 200 rural communities, mostly remote, most of which are powered by diesel generators.
“Many southeast communities are powered
in part or whole by hydropower, while a number of rural communities around the state
have integrated wind power as well,” she says.
For energy providers, renewable energy is
also a win.
“When AVEC deploys renewables, the entire community benefits,” says Kohler. “Since
we burn less diesel, the fuel cost component of
the rate goes down, thereby reducing the cost
of all kilowatts in a community,” she adds.
It’s also a win for energy cooperatives as
some rural utilities are owned by a tribe or
“In most small rural communities, renewable is a small percentage of total generation;
“Alaskans pay some of the highest energy prices in the country. Our commitment to renewable
energy and diesel integrated projects in remote communities has the potential to benefit rural
community members with the highest energy costs, keeping money in the local economies and
creating clean energy jobs. The biggest winners are businesses and facility owners paying the full
price of energy.”
—Katie Conway, Government Relations, Outreach, and Efficiency Manager, Alaska Energy Authority