Tag Archives: Rural Alaska

Our Alaska: Living off the grid

From Alaska Dispatch, Sunday, January 2, 2011:

When general contractor David Doolen and his wife Dale bought land far up Rabbit Creek Valley more than 25 years ago, they weren’t planning on disconnecting from the municipal power grid. But back then the muni would have charged the Doolens $60,000 to run up a line to connect the house to city power, so they decided to keep the lights on using solar power and a generator. Today they’ve got two solar panels in addition to the diesel generator, which is connected to a 300-gallon tank that needs filling about twice a year. One side benefit of this unique setup: When the rest of Anchorage suffers through a blackout, the Doolens’ lights stay on. “We always feel pretty smug when that happens,” David said.

Watch the video: Our Alaska: Living off the grid

Nenana may be getting experimental in-river power turbine

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Monday, December 27, 2010:

Federal regulators are reviewing plans for a submerged, in-river power turbine. It’s a pilot project energy researchers and the developer think could help communities across rural Alaska, where electric costs run exponentially higher than in urban hubs.

Two similar projects have been tested in Ruby and Eagle. This one, lined up for use near Nenana, would be bigger — between 50 and 300 kilowatts, via small turbines and an underwater transmission cable in the Tanana River. It would operate a little less than half the year.

Monty Worthington, a project development director for the Anchorage-based ORPC Alaska, said he hopes to have the system up and running in 2012.

Energy fair offers chance to learn about renewables

From The Tundra Drums, Wednesday, October 27, 2010:

There are plenty of reasons to visit the 2nd YK Delta Regional Alternative Energy and Energy Conservation Fair on Saturday, Oct. 30, at Bethel’s Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center.

Vendors greet attendees starting at 10 a.m. and presenters begin at 10:30 and continue until 4 p.m. Admission is free and tables are provided at no charge to vendors thanks to sponsorship by UAF’s Kuskokwim University Campus (KUC), the City of Bethel, Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC), and Yuut Elitnaurviat, The People’s Learning Center.

Sign up for a ride to visit two working residential wind turbines with Kirk Garoutte of Susitna Energy Systems who will answer your questions about feasibility for your location, cost recuperation, and shipping and installation logistics. The number in Anchorage is 877-485-1100 or 907-222-3992, email info@susitnaenergy.com, web site www.susitnaenergy.com.

Continue reading: Energy fair offers chance to learn about renewables

Greenhouse rises in Quinhagak, thanks to Jenny Jones, students

From The Tundra Drums, Wednesday, October 27, 2010:

Students recently built a greenhouse in Quinhagak, thanks to a $10,000 grant from former celebrity talk show host Jenny Jones. There are still some final touches to be done on the inside such as lighting, heat, shelving. Those jobs won’t be done until next February when the class is ready to start planting.

Teacher Sherry Pederson applied for the grant from Jenny’s Heroes. Learn more at www.jennysheroes.com [http://jennysheroes.com].

Pederson wanted to improve nutrition in the Western Alaska village by providing fresh, cheap veggies.

People in rural Alaska often buy their vegetables in cans because fresh ones in remote village stores are often wilted and costly, if they’re available at all.

Doyon Ltd. proposes hydroelectric project for Denali National Park

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, October 26, 2010:

Doyon Ltd. wants to build a micro-hydroelectric project inside Denali National Park and Preserve to power Kantishna Roadhouse, a backcountry lodge the Fairbanks Native Corporation owns 100 miles inside the park.

The National Park Service supports the project, and Alaska’s two senators, Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski, introduced legislation last month — the Kantishna Hills Renewable Energy Act of 2010 — that directs the park service to issue a special-use permit to speed construction of the project and authorizes a 10-acre land exchange between Doyon and the NPS.

Doyon is proposing to build the hydro project on Eureka Creek, a small fishless creek near the roadhouse in the non-wilderness section of the 6 million-acre park. The project would include a 50-kilowatt power plant, a small impoundment dam and a small pipeline to carry water. Doyon currently uses a diesel generator to power the roadhouse.

Respiratory illness rates high in rural Alaska

From The Associated Press, Saturday, October 23, 2010:

Researchers say rural Alaskans and Alaska Natives are more likely to develop respiratory illnesses than anyone else in Alaska.

The Tundra Drums reports that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher Rosalyn Singleton says rural Alaskans contract respiratory illnesses in part because they live in crowded conditions through harsh winters that leave residents indoors for long stretches of time.

Singleton says many rural Alaska homes lack running water, making hand-washing difficult. She says wood-burning stoves and smoking indoors contributes to the level of respiratory illness, as do dusty clouds that sweep off roads.

Despite the difficult conditions, hospitalization rates for children suffering from respiratory illness on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are falling.

Free class on cold-climate building to be offered in Bethel

From The Tundra Drums, Friday, October 14, 2010:

A free class will be offered in conjunction with Bethel’s second annual energy fair.

The Advanced Cold Climate Building Techniques will take place Oct. 28 and 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in room 118 at UAF’s Kuskokwim University Campus in Bethel.

For those who wish to earn CEUs, or Continuing Education Units, the cost is $45. This class gives licensed builders and construction folks a residential certification. (This is a $480 class in Anchorage.)

Continue reading: University offers free class on cold-climate building

University of Alaska gets $3 million grant for rural hybrid energy

From The Associated Press, Friday, September 17, 2010:

A University of Alaska group will receive $3 million to study options to optimize wind-diesel hybrid energy systems in rural Alaska.

The Alaska Center for Energy and Power, based at UA Fairbanks, was awarded the grant by the federal Department of Energy.

The university says Alaska already has systems pairing wind turbines with diesel power plants but many are not performing as designed due to extreme weather and remote, distributed grid systems.

Research paid for by the grant will investigate technical issues related to power stability, long-term energy storage and control systems to better use fluctuating wind power.

Research also will investigate turbine performance in cold climates and remote locations and challenges such as icing, foundations in poor soils and remote monitoring.

Wind power company in 'talks' with AVEC

From The Tundra Drums, Wednesday, September 15, 2010:

WindPower Innovations Inc., a wind power infrastructure and smart grid solutions company (PINK SHEETS:WPNV), announced talks with Alaska Villages Electric Co-op (AVEC), a non-profit electric utility, owned by the people served in 53 villages throughout interior and western Alaska, and is the largest service area of any retail electric cooperative in the world.

News of the talks arrived in a written statement from WindPower.

“We are in the second round of talks with AVEC to enhance the efficiency of their 250-500 kW wind turbines with our system optimization and grid-tie solutions,” says John Myers, president and CEO of WindPower Innovations. “Alaska represents a marketplace in the hundreds of millions and soon to be over a billion dollars for wind and other alternative energy sources, and the adaptability of WindPower Innovations’ technology allows us to capitalize on opportunities in extreme and remote environments where others can’t. We will be able to provide AVEC with solutions that help them break through barriers in efficiency and help solve the challenges faced by Alaska’s extremes in climate, geography and distance.”

AVEC is in the process of upgrading and increasing the operating efficiency of its power plant facilities and distribution lines, along with expanding its wind power segment, continuing to move away from costly diesel-generated power.

Continue reading: Wind power company in ‘talks’ with AVEC

State works with villages to keep them warm

From Alaska Dispatch, Tuesday, September 7, 2010:

A state program designed to ensure that rural Alaska communities have an adequate supply of home-heating fuel is headed into its second successful year, the state reported in a press release.

The Fuel Watch program is an initiative of Gov. Sean Parnell that was implemented by the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development through its Division of Community and Regional Affairs.

Fuel Watch came about as a proactive approach to preventing the kind of seasonal hardship that fuel shortages caused in many rural communities in the winter and early spring of 2009.

To date, DCRA staff have made hundreds of phone calls to communities around the state to verify that fuel supplies are in order for the upcoming winter. In the program’s first year, DCRA staff made more than 1,500 phone calls and assisted 200 communities prior to the onset of winter. Alaska villages saw a significantly reduced number of fuel shortages than were experienced a year earlier.

“Fuel Watch is an excellent example of the proactive and supportive relationship our department strives to develop with communities throughout Alaska. Working to prevent another crisis situation is a much better use of state resources than responding to an actual crisis,” said Susan Bell, commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. “Alaskans will be better prepared this winter because of the dedication of Division of Community and Regional Affairs staff.”

DCRA officials are also working with fuel delivery companies and rural communities to identify where assistance may be needed. Communities with limited financial resources are being encouraged to apply for financing through state loan programs.

“Ensuring that rural families stay warm in the winter is part of our division’s mission to promote healthy and safe communities,” said DCRA Director Tara Jollie. “It is not too early to start thinking about the coming winter. When we take steps to avoid an emergency, it is a win-win situation for everyone involved.”