Monday the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce looked beyond the state’s oil, natural gas and coal resources to Alaska’s considerable, but yet largely untapped, renewable energy possibilities.
Chris Rose is executive Director and founder of the Renewable Energy Alaska Project. Rose spoke about the status of projects currently underway to aimed at reducing Alaska’s reliance on natural gas and diesel to produce electricity. For his chamber, business-oriented audience, Rose likened the development of alternative energy sources to personal investments.
Rose says Alaska enjoys big advantages in the development of alternative energy. Namely, it has a wide variety of possible sources with considerable potential. Hydro ranks high as a proven source, there’s wind power along the state’s coastal areas (Kodiak is a prime example), geo-thermal as evidenced in a Mount Spur investigation, plus tidal and wave power.
Rose says Alaska has 75 percent of the nation’s wave power potential and 90 percent of the country’s tidal potential.
Interest exists in Alaska’s alternative possibilities. In its seven years existence, the Renewable Energy Alaska Project now has 70 members – utilities, businesses, environmental groups, public interest and Native corporations. Rose says the challenge is to take that interest and transform it into action before an international opportunity is lost.
There’s also a cost of not developing alternative energy sources for Alaska. Rose cites predictions of five billion dollars in energy costs for rural Alaska over the next 20 years. As for the rail belt?
Rose notes that alternative energy development often carries with it an initial higher cost than conventional sources. He points to the proposed Susitna or Watana dam project.
After that more costly start, Anchorage Municipal Light and Power’s January, 2011 tariff sheet shows Bradley Lake mega watt hour production costs now at 37 dollars with ML&P’s average cost at over 48 dollars.
Rose told the chamber that it’s imperative people especially in South Central Alaska – not look to a single project to solve future power needs.
Rose says Alaska’s continued status into the mid century as an energy state even as its non-renewable resources fade, hinges on its ability to develop alternative sources. Those sources should both supply Alaska’s needs and develop a marketable expertise that can prove profitable on the national and international scene.
- PROGRAMMING NOTE: Listen to Chris Rose’s complete presentation at the Anchorage Chamber on Thursday, May 5 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm on KSKA’s Addressing Alaskans
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage