- More than 70 remote Alaskan communities have entered a federal efficiency competition which will provide $4 million in funds for efforts to reduce consumption in far-flung portions of the largest state.
- The Department of Energy (DOE) launched the remote Alaskan Communities Energy Efficiency competition (ACEE) in December, seeking solicitations to advance the use of reliable, affordable, clean-energy and energy-efficient solutions that can be replicated throughout the state and potentially in other Arctic regions.
- The application deadline for technical assistance in developing a project is March 31, according to DOE. Selected projects are expected to be announced in late April.
Reducing consumption and the cost of energy is a large issue for Alaska, where remote communities often pay several times the average electricity price of consumers in more connected areas. In some smaller, rural communities where temperatures dip to extreme lows, about 20% of citizens are spending half of their disposable income on energy, primarily electricity and heat.
That makes funding opportunities like the DOE's Alaskan Communities Energy Efficiency competition especially important for the state. “Everything from simple weatherization of windows to lighting to larger, more capital intensive projects,” Emily Ford, the policy and outreach manager for the competition, told KTOO Public Media.
The first phase of the competition challenged Alaskan villages of 8,000 residents or less to pledge to improve community energy efficiency by a minimum of 15% by 2020, a figure which mirrors the state's own goals.
According to the White House, which announced the funding last year, the initiative will "support community efforts to adopt culturally and climate-appropriate energy-efficiency measures by evaluating community energy use; developing long-term, sustainable, and replicable energy-efficiency plans; and supporting the implementation of proposed plans."
Last year, Sen, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, proposed legislation to assist isolated communities in diversifying their fuel sources by including them in the Department of Energy’s microgrid activities.
Within Alaska, the state uses its Power Cost Endowment Fund, which now stands at almost $1 billion, to help make energy costs more equitable.The fund pays out about $40 million annually, and lawmakers are considering new rules to move some of the money back into the state's general fund.