Tag Archives: Rural Alaska

Clean energy can lessen Native suffering

From The Anchorage Daily News, Sunday, August 15, 2010:

As an Alaska Native veteran, I want to see our country expand our clean energy sources. It will help our planet and our state, it will help Alaska’s Native peoples and it will help our national defense.

I am 69 years old. In my lifetime I have seen many changes connected to global warming. A big part of where I grew up has permafrost. The small village where my mother was born has sunk in and is now part of a large lake. I saw the old village of Kasigluk begin sinking in my short lifetime. The island where my maternal grandparents lived is mostly gone. A new Kasigluk was created almost a mile downriver from the old village. A new school, federally funded houses, post office and airport had to be built at a high cost.

The warming has affected the fall white fish runs on the Johnson River not far from Bethel. People there rarely fish for them anymore. The black fish creeks are almost nonexistent because of the changing river channels due to warming. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta has been invaded by beaver, which dam up the many small tundra creeks, disrupting the black fish runs.

Newtok, where my maternal grandmother’s family is from, and the village of Shishmaref need to be relocated at great cost due to erosion. Our elders link the erosion to changing weather due to warming. The melting of the permafrost also increases the cost of constructing homes and public buildings.

In rural villages, the cost of fuel to heat homes is high. So is the cost of electricity, which comes from expensive diesel fuel.

Continue reading: Clean energy can lessen Native suffering

Taking the chill out of Arctic homes

From The Arctic Sounder, Wednesday, August 25, 2010:

The success of an innovative new home in Anaktuvuk Pass – which uses a wind power, solar panels and design features of traditional Nunamiut sod housing – is changing the way houses will be designed and built on the North Slope.

“This is a huge leap forward – I hope it has tremendous impact,” said Daryl Kooley, of the Tagiugmiullu Nunamiullu Housing Authority.

The house used just 87 gallons of heating fuel from November to June. Other homes typically use about 100 gallons of fuel per month.

It also cost a lot less to build – just $220,000, compared to a normal three-bedroom home in Anaktuvuk Pass, which runs upwards of $570,000.

The house was the prototype in an effort to find ways of building better, more cost-effective houses in rural Alaska, which “grew out of the fact that estimates for new housing were so extraordinary,” Kooley said. A modest, three-bedroom home in Nuiqsut constructed in the usual way, for example, can cost over $1 million to build.

That is a real problem in North Slope villages, which suffer over-crowded, crumbling homes in desperate need of replacement. To find a solution, TNHA teamed up with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, a nonprofit that works on developing housing designs for the circumpolar north.

“We are going to have diminishing financial resources for building in rural Alaska given the economic reality of the U.S. So how can we together address the high cost of housing? We can do that together so the future is a little brighter for these communities,” said CCHRC president and CEO Jack Hebert.

The Anaktuvuk Pass prototype house was the first structure built as part of CCHRC’s Sustainable Northern Communities project, a program begun in 2008 to engineer housing solutions for rural northern communities.

Continue reading: Taking the chill out of Arctic Homes

Driftwood cabins the next government housing in Emmonak?

From The Tundra Drums, Wednesday, July 7, 2010:

The “river loggers” who float driftwood down the Yukon River for heating have a new use for their big bundles: a seafood company that hopes to show housing agencies it can build low-cost homes with local materials.

The Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association buys the logs and last year turned some into a supply store where fishermen can buy nets and other gear.

Now it’s building a demonstration cabin down the road in Emmonak, a Yup’ik village of 800 that sees logs float past regularly, many uprooted by ice boulders and floods that scour the banks each spring.

Continue reading: Driftwood cabins the next government housing in Emmonak?

A Caribou-bou in the Warming Arctic

From The New York Times, Friday, June 25, 2010:

A long-running joke with my nieces, Allison and Lindsay, is that a mistake involving caribou is a “caribou-bou.”  Our caribou-bou is now clear.  We missed the massive migrations of the Western caribou herd in Alaska by two days. We’ve seen recent tracks everywhere, as well as those of wolves and grizzlies.

The caribou apparently migrated to the coast early, and then clear, warm weather brought an early influx of mosquitoes, so the caribou left for cooler conditions and snowbanks that had not yet melted.

Continue reading: A Caribou-bou in the Warming Arctic

Kenai keen on community's sustainable habits

From Peninsula Clarion, Saturday, May 1, 2010:

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Report: Wood, wind could help meet rural Alaska energy needs

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, May 1, 2010:

Fort Yukon could turn to wood-fired power to ease its reliance on diesel fuel. Tanana could install wind turbines and start using half as much fuel within a few years.

The Alaska Energy Authority published those scenarios and about 200 more, including cost estimates, this week. The report comes less than a month after the Legislature set, as official state policy, the target of using wind turbines, hydroelectric dams and other renewable projects for at least half Alaska’s electricity by 2025.

“This gives you the pathway to get there,” said Steve Haagenson, director of the authority.

The agency released the report, an “energy pathway,” to coincide with a three-day rural energy conference in Fairbanks that ended Thursday.

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Hensley: Do-it-yourself rural energy is needed

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, April 27, 2010:

Willie Hensley said this morning that Alaska, particularly its energy-starved rural communities, should think about bracing for tough times.

Oil development and federal financial aid have left Alaska with great per capita wealth. They’ve declined in recent years, and Hensley, an icon in modern Alaska Native history, told an energy conference that Alaskans should “reconfigure our value system” to escape from dependence on aid and major development projects.

Such federal support, Hensley told roughly 400 people at the downtown Westmark Fairbanks Hotel, once meant major subsidies for power plants so villages could electrify their homes and public buildings. But Hensley said he expects Alaska may need to rely more on ingenuity and resourcefulness if it expects future improvements to the quality of life here.

“It has been nothing short of phenomenal to see the kinds of programs and services and facilities and infrastructure that we now enjoy,” Hensley said. “The big question is, is it sustainable?”

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2 test homes to be built in remote Alaska villages

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, April 23, 2010:

Two prototype homes will be built this summer in remote Alaska villages to test construction methods and energy savings as researchers look for low-cost housing.

An eight-sided home meant to resemble traditional Yup’ik dwellings will be built in Quinhagak, a rainy Western Alaska coastal village where some homes built in the 1970s are rotting.

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Public Lecture: A Discussion of Traditional Alaska Native Design and Construction

Friday, March 5, 2010, 4-5PM

Morris Thompson Cultural Center

Dr. Sven Haakanson Jr. discusses the knowledge and abilities of Alaska’s Indigenous people to design and construct complex equipment, housing and tools without the use of modern technology.

The efforts of those preserving this knowledge for future generations will also be discussed.

Click here for more information.

Small wind farm pays big

From Alaska Dispatch, Tuesday, February 23, 2010:

On Tuesday, the village of Unalakleet, seated on Alaska’s northwest coast, celebrated the town’s newest energy force — turbine number six. The awakening of the high-tech wind catcher completes the installation of the town’s new wind farm, which has already saved the village tens of thousands of dollars since the first turbines powered up a few months ago.

Since November, Unalakleet has cut utility costs by nearly $55,000 and generated enough electricity to power 86 homes for an entire year, according the wind farm’s new Web site. The site also claims the wind energy has significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions that would otherwise have been pumped into the atmosphere through more traditional, diesel-only power generation — the equivalent of more than 580,000 miles of driving in the family car. According to our calculations, that’s about 111 one-way trips between Anchorage and Key West, Florida.

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