Southeast Cluster Initiative: Renewable Energy
Cluster Co-Chairs: Bill Leighty, The Leighty Foundation/Alaska Applied Sciences; Alec Mesdag, AEL&P, and Bob Deering, USFS
Southeast Alaska Renewable Energy Action Initiatives
1. Review Current Net Metering, Cogeneration and Small Power Production Regulation and Promote Modifications to Enhance Renewable Energy Applications
The goals of the initiative are to better understand the technical limitations to net metering experienced by the utilities; foster technical solutions and promote better education of both the utilities and the rate payers; and develop new legislation improving the opportunities for application of renewable energy and CHP resources. No activity was taken in 2012.
2. Establish a Renewable Energy Revolving Loan Fund for Residences and Small Businesses to Promote Local Installation and Fueling Industries
Champion: Bart Watson, Armstrong-Keta, Inc
One of the fundamental steps in moving Southeast Alaska to a renewable energy economy is for residences and small businesses to convert from fossil fuels to using renewable energy sources such as heat pumps and pellet stoves. These renewable fuels have many advantages: they can be relatively inexpensive, the supply is local and therefore more reliable, and the consumer is protected against future oil price shocks and supply disruptions. However, despite potential significant savings on fuel costs, the initial equipment installation costs can be high and create a significant impediment to adoption for most potential users. While performance contracting is widely available for large businesses, no similar financing mechanism exists for small businesses and residences. A revolving loan fund would provide a very attractive means for enabling the installation of, or conversion to, renewable energy heating systems, with the savings in utility costs being used to pay back the capital improvement loans. This revolving loan fund could be designed to assist in converting from gas to electric vehicles as well. In February of 2012 several lobbying meetings were held. The initiative is currently on hold.
3. Conduct Market‐driven Renewable Energy Economic Modeling for Southeast Alaska, including Multiple Transmission and Energy Storage Strategies
Champion: Bill Leighty, The Leighty Foundation/Alaska Applied Sciences
The goal of this initiative is to develop credible business cases for profitably harvesting and delivering to market diverse renewable energy resources in Southeast Alaska. Through the process of seven or more meetings throughout 2012, and the addition of several partners in the process, this initiative has been refocused to breaking down different parts of the ultimate deliverable into smaller parts that are more easily funded. The first of those is currently expected to be completed by or before February 11, 2013. This piece is a report of the aggregate demand for energy in our region, including all energy types, broken down by energy type and broken down by community. This data was identified as a valuable piece of information that has not yet been compiled for our region. The information has crosscutting value to anyone who is currently working or plans to work in the energy sector in the region..
4. Wood 2 Energy Demand Development Initiative
Champions: Dan Parrent and Bob Deering, USFS
The goal of this initiative is to “Replace 30% of heating oil usage with renewable biomass fuel within the next ten years.” What this initiative will NOT be focusing on is the biomass supply side of the equation. The details of this goal are based in part on the results of the Southeast Alaska Integrated Resource Plan findings. A significant milestone in 2012 was the US Forest Service hiring Bob Deering on a temporary assignment from his regular position at the US Coast Guard to create a strategic plan. This roadmap will identify a transition strategy to biomass energy to complement the region’s hydroelectric energy supply. In addition, the US Forest Service has allocated some of Dan Parrent’s time to this effort.
Holding a kickoff meeting 11/28/2012 and 11/29/2012, this group has re-titled itself the “Wood 2 Energy Initiative” (W2E). The initiative action steps have also been redefined to include a series of sector focus group meetings to take place as part of the process of developing the implementation roadmap. Some of these meetings have already taken place, and others are scheduled for 2013. A number of meetings have been held that have generated a great deal of enthusiasm and awareness in the region for biomass thermal energy. We are seeing momentum building and more and more conversions of facilities from oil to biomass around the region. The roadmap will be completed in 2013, and at that time the team will move into the implementation phase, all the while building momentum and awareness through the process.
4. Develop Renewable Energy Education for SE Alaska Residents, Students and Businesses
Champion: Alec Mesdag (as of January 2013)
There is a need to increase the awareness of the public—including municipal and State leadership--of renewable energy through fact-driven informational campaigns. This education will increase public support for renewable energy issues and projects, which is especially important when public policy changes (regulations, etc.) will be required for the successful development of a renewable energy industry in Southeast Alaska. Little progress was made in 2012. Contacts were made with the Renewable Energy Alaska Program, and they delivered some training in Southeast Alaska in coordination with the Alaska Center for Energy and Power. This training curriculum was partially developed with support of JEDC’s STEM AK Program. Also, contact was made with the Winds for Schools Program to see about utilization of the Wind Turbine installed at the US Coast Guard facility in downtown Juneau.