April 2024 Back Page – Spring Into The Future

Posted: April 3, 2024

As I write this there are officially 12 hours left of winter, the vernal equinox will occur this evening and the planet will slide into spring.  Spring in Alaska means there is more light to view and enjoy the winter landscape.  It means people are scurrying around looking for paperwork to complete their taxes.  And it means people are planning, ordering, and scheduling work to be completed in the short summer season to come.

Recently, AVEC and its members have had the good fortune to be chosen for several grant funding opportunities. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act have rolled out programs including the Office of Clean Energy Demonstration (OCED) to improve energy infrastructure and transition to a lower carbon energy future.  AVEC has been partnering with tribes and regional entities to target installing renewable generation and energy storage to reduce the amount of diesel fuel needed to keep the lights on all year.   Energy storage has not improved to the point of being able to move away from diesel generation entirely, but reductions of 10, 20 even up to 40% are huge improvements in trying to lower our dependence on diesel fuel.

In coordination with AVEC, the Tanana Chiefs Conference applied for and was selected for funding to install Solar PV and Energy storage in the communities of Nulato, Huslia, Minto, Kaltag, Grayling, Anvik, Shageluk, and Holy Cross.  Similarly, the Northwest Artic Borough was selected for funding to install or increase Solar PV and Energy Storage in Ambler, Kiana, Noorvik, Shungnak, Selawik and Noatak.  AVEC as a sub-recipient will also receive funding to replace the Kobuk tieline and install converters to allow transmitting power using direct current (DC) rather than alternating current (AC) as a proof of concept for possible future, longer, tielines.

Separately, AVEC has been selected for Federal funds, (Denali Commission, Rural Utility Service, and Department of Energy) to install energy storage at existing wind sites in Shaktoolik, Toksook Bay and Quinhagak, to boost the amount of usable power we can harness from wind production.  AVEC also received funding to improve the plant and install wind turbines in Goodnews Bay.  It’s going to be a busy next few years bringing these projects to life.

As the light returns everyone is looking forward and preparing for the long days to come.  There is anticipation of the wave of renewable energy and innovation coming to rural Alaska.

Until next time,

Bill Stamm

P.S. As you are rummaging through the mail looking for those tax documents, don’t forget to fill out, sign, and return your mail-in ballot to vote for AVEC Directors. Ballots must be received by April 17th.