The House also today authorized a five year extension of the Renewable Energy Grant fund. In continuing the program, it also informally agreed to contribute $50-million a year to projects fitting into the Fund’s requirements.
Finance Co-Chair Bill Thomas (R-Haines) told members that the Fund has distributed $176.6-million since it was first set up in 2008. And twenty one projects have been completed. He cited the Gustavus Hydro for saving twenty seven cents a kilowatt hour, Cordova Humpback Creek hydro for saving more than ten cents a kilowatt hour, and Kodiak Pillar Mountain for saving more than fourteen cents – reducing the sale of diesel fuel by some ten million gallons statewide last year.
Anchorage Republican Charisse Millet was the Energy Committee co-chair when the program was restructured in 2010. She says Renewable Energy has had phenomenal success in rural Alaska.
Sometimes we talk about if this program’s going to last or if we can sustain that program. This is one that we should continue to fund. It has done great things for communities all over. And I think, really emphasizing displacing diesel is the key because that’s what we really started this bill to do back when we started the conversation.
Anchorage Democrat Les Gara said Alaska stands far above other states with energy conservation – saying the Grant Program benefits urban and rural residents.
We know the price of fossil fuels is getting more and more expensive. No matter which one of us has the most brilliant idea on bringing oil and gas at cheaper rates to our consumers, those prices are likely rising. Renewable energy stays the same price forever in most cases. It might start a little high, but ten years from now it’s the same price. And twenty years from now it’s the same price. Because wind doesn’t get more expensive.
There was no opposition to extending the program. The bill goes now to the Senate for its consideration.