‘Fairbanks First Fuel’ Study Finds Potential for Big Savings

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A new report says Fairbanks could save big by using less electricity, calling energy efficiency “Fairbanks First Fuel.”  The study paid for by the Alaska Conservation Alliance and put together by a California based consultant targets basic efficiency measures and technology upgrades as means to reducing energy consumption.  Fairbanks First Fuel report author Paul Sheldon says replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents or L.E.D.s is a first step.

That’s about an 8th of Fairbanks power load. Efficiency benefits were touted by legislators during a rollout of the First Fuel report in Fairbanks yesterday.  State Senator Joe Paskvan highlighted the recent upgrade to L.E.D. streetlights in Fairbanks and North Pole.

The First Fuel report also lines out major savings available by upgrading to more efficient refrigerators and hot water heaters, as well as installation of smart meters to gauge electricity consumption and change use patterns. The report extrapolates that Fairbanks could half its electricity consumption with a $100 million investment in efficiency upgrades.

The report also offers ways to pay for increased efficiency, including a surcharge on electric bills to support an appliance upgrade program, and rate breaks for off peak usage. Golden Valley Electric runs an “Energy Sense” assessment program that helps consumers gauge and improve efficiency, but GVEA energy specialist Todd Hoener, says the new report could help enhance support for it and other programs.

Hoener says the gains efficiency can offer deserve more attention, citing the constant focus on finding new energy sources, instead of reducing demand.  The First Fuel report is based on assumptions about existing technology and uses in Fairbanks, and participants at Wednesday’s meeting stressed the important of developing actual base line data so that benefits of efficiency investments are clear.

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