Major solar panel project nears completion in Willow
By Sean Maguire | Updated: Mon 10:24 PM, Aug 27, 2018
WILLOW, Alaska (KTUU) —A major solar panel project is nearing completion a few miles south of Willow with hopes of turning a profit within the next eight to ten years.
Jenn Miller, the CEO of Renewable Independent Power Producers, says that the solar panel farm consists of 408 panels that will soon be able to generate 160,000 kilowatt hours per year, or enough electricity to power 25 to 30 homes.
The purpose of the project is profit. Miller, her husband Chris Colbert and two other business partners are generating power to sell back to Matanuska Electric Association, a utility that has worked with Miller since the project's infancy in November, 2017.
Julie Estey, MEA's Director of External Affairs, says the utility currently has partnerships with three independent power producers, all of which are hydro-powered. Two are located in Eagle River and one is in Palmer.
The solar project in Willow will be the first major solar panel partnership with a business for MEA, and Estey says the Valley cooperative is "looking forward to it."
The amount typically paid to an independent power producer is the avoided cost for the utility, explained Estey. That's the cost a cooperative like MEA would have incurred had they generated the power themselves.
Currently, that amounts to just over 9 cents per kilowatt hour, but that figure is subject to change as it's determined each quarter by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. A similar arrangement can be worked out for homeowners and businesses who want their own renewable energy systems through a process known as 'net metering' where excess power is sold back to the utility, again at the avoided cost rate for the utility. More
Home Energy Leaders Program: ‘HELP’-ing Southeast Alaskans save money and energy
Posted August 8, 2018 09:22 am By BETHANY GOODRICH For the Capital City Weekly
Tackling energy loss can be difficult, in part, because it’s hard to see.
Energy creeps out through creaky door frames and window cracks in the form of heat loss. It is sucked out and drained by plugged-in but “off” appliances as phantom or “vampire energy.” Non-LED bulbs blaze through electrical energy at a cheetah pace. One element of energy loss though is easy to see: high utility bills.
The Home Energy Leaders Program (HELP), which is wrapping up its pilot season this week, aims to make simple energy saving solutions available to four rural Southeast communities.
HELP is hosted by the Renewable Energy Alaska Program and Southeast Conference, and supported by the Alaska Conservation Foundation, Hoonah Indian Association, the Inside Passage Electric Cooperative in Kake, and the Sustainable Southeast Partnership. Seven residents from Kake, Angoon, Hoonah and Yakutat were flown to Juneau in January to take a crash course training in energy efficiency and residential energy auditing. Four more, who were weathered out of the Juneau event, were trained later online. Once trained and paperwork was signed, energy leaders took to their home communities in March with surveys and resources like LED lights and weather stripping to audit interested neighbor’s homes.
Niccole Williams, of Hoonah, is one of those trained leaders and since early spring she’s audited more than 20 of her neighbors’ residences.
“I’ve gotten feedback from people who have taken my advice and changed to LED bulbs, used power strips and have done all the work that I’ve stressed during the audit and they actually did see a difference in their energy bill,” Williams said. “When they see me in town, people have literally stopped me and made a point to say, ‘Thank you so much for helping me save money!’ It’s a really great feeling.”
New power plant will keep lights on in Togiak
Wind power will soon heat the homes of Pilot Point residents
By Mitch Borden, KDLG-Dillingham
Pilot Point is a part of a growing number of rural Alaska communities turning to wind to help heat homes because the cost of diesel is so expensive, especially in the winter.
A lot of rural Alaska communities depend on diesel fuel for electricity and heating.
After years of work, a plan is going into action that could help the village of about 50 year-round residents get a more reliable and affordable source of energy.
Pilot Point primarily uses diesel-powered generators to power the village, which could begin to change in the coming months as a pair of wind turbines come online.
“Wind is basically what we have an abundance of and if we can use that to heat the houses as well as for power, it’ll be a real god sent for us,” said Greg Kingsley, the Native Village of Pilot Point’s Indian environmental assistance program coordinator.
He’s been working on the project to help the community move away from relying on fossil fuels and switching to renewable energy for more than a decade.
The pair of Belgian made Xant wind turbines that are being installed will be able to produce four times the amount of electricity needed to power the community.
The excess power will be funneled into Pilot Point homes to run new heating stoves being installed for free. Homes will be mostly heated by wind energy rather than heating oil.
Legislation Signed to Facilitate Energy Improvements to Homes and Businesses
House Bill 374 Can Give Alaskans Access to Low-Cost Financing
FAIRBANKS—Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed a bill into law allowing utilities in Alaska to create low-interest financing programs to help customers make energy efficiency improvement to their homes and businesses. House Bill 374, sponsored by Representative Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks), allows utilities to offer low-interest loans to customers with payments added to existing utility bills.
The on-bill financing made possible through this legislation can be used to help Alaskans better heat their homes during the cold winter months, switch to more energy efficient appliances, and get access to alternative energy sources,” said Rep. Wool. “I believe this legislation is vitally important for the Interior Energy Project because it can be used to help Fairbanks area homeowners convert from oil to natural gas to more efficiently heat their homes. It will also improve the air quality in our region. On-bill financing has been very successful in other parts of the county, and I am confident it will work for Alaska.”
Under an on-bill financing program, utilities can loan money to customers to make any number of energy efficiency improvements. The customer would then pay off the low-interest loan through an additional line item on their utility bill.
House Bill 374 was approved by the Alaska House of Representatives in early April by a vote of 36-2. The Alaska State Senate unanimously passed the bill on May 12, the final day of the Second Session of the 30th Alaska State Legislature. Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed HB 374 into law during a bill signing ceremony in Fairbanks.
Islands of Power - Putting renewable energy sources in place
By Isaac Stone Simonelli Published:
Renewable energy projects, especially solar, operate at scales of much larger magnitude in the Lower 48 than in Alaska. But size isn’t everything, and there has been a strong uptick in the development of renewable energy projects in the Alaska since 2008.
“What makes Alaska’s brand of renewable energy projects particularly interesting and unique is that they are all operating within islanded electrical grids, most of which are very small,” explains Katie Conway, government relations, outreach, and efficiency manager for the Alaska Energy Authority. The Alaska Energy Authority works to reduce the costs of energy through projects, programs, and initiatives that identify and implement energy solutions unique to the state’s communities.
“Alaska is now recognized as a world leader in the development, installation, and operation of small, integrated microgrids, as well as for the innovation, collaboration, and tenacious persistence behind them,” Conway says. More
Solar power growing on peninsula
Stephen Trimble wants everyone to know that the business of solar power is growing. His company, Arctic Solar Ventures Corporation, has been installing more and more solar panels on the central peninsula.
Department of Energy to Fund Four Village Projects
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced nearly $9 million in funding for 15 tribal energy infrastructure projects. This funding through the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs will help Native American and Alaska Native communities harness their vast undeveloped energy resources to reduce or stabilize energy costs, as well as increase energy security and resilience.
These energy projects, valued in total at nearly $25 million, are the result of a competitive funding opportunity announcement (FOA) announced February 16, 2018.
“This funding opportunity was the first time the Office of Indian Energy has solicited fuel- and technology-neutral projects, which expands the potential for tribes to utilize the particular resources they have available on their lands,” said US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “These new projects exemplify this Administration’s all-of-the-above energy policy and principles of true tribal sovereignty.”
State seeks to boost geothermal energy production
Do you know of a good geothermal hot spot in Alaska? If you do, the state wants to know about it. The state may then hold a lease sale on the land to provide more energy opportunities in Alaska.
"Alaska is located along the most active tectonic and volcanic region in the world, but so far, its geothermal resource potential is largely untapped," according to the Division of Oil and Gas.
The Division is asking people to nominate state-owned lands with geothermal potential for possible testing. If the state likes what it sees, then it may hold a lease sale to "qualified bidders", similar to oil and gas leases. A lot would have to happen before a lease sale happened, including public comment opportunities.
The state says investigations since the 1980s have shown that geothermal potential exists in nearly every region of Alaska. The state specifically mentioned lands south of the Umiat Basin -- plus other areas -- being available for geothermal resource exploration.
Nominations will be accepted through Nov, 9. People can find more information here