Happy Friday Alaska! The sun is shining here in Anchorage and now is the perfect time to take a break from the morning rush and catch up on some news making headlines across the state.
Posts Tagged ‘Susitna Hydroelectric’
Happy Friday Alaska! Here are some conservation related issues making headlines across the state this week:
Happy Friday Alaska! Spring is in full swing and the sun is shining. Hopefully you will be able to get out and enjoy nature this weekend! Here are a few articles making headlines this week across the state:
This crazy bill could eliminate Arizona’s ability to do any environmental work- I realize this isn’t Alaskan news but the bill is so crazy that I had to include the article this week
Spring is in the air in Alaska and with it comes the end of the 90-day legislative session. This year’s legislative session is set to adjourn on April 15th and Alaska legislators still have plenty of work to do- much of it on energy.
As we go into the final 2 weeks of session, the Senate has finally unveiled their version of oil tax plan. Introduced on Tuesday in the Senate Finance committee, this bill offers some substantial structural changes to the current ACES tax plan. The new proposal sets up different taxes for oil and gas production and attempts to encourage new production. Oil and gas company representatives will be invited to testify on the bill and the Senate hopes to push the bill over to the House as soon as possible. For more details on the Senate oil tax plan, click here.
Three bills attempting to provide relief for high energy costs in the Interior are also progressing through the Legislature. These bills would provide short term relief through home heating vouchers and would also provide credits for natural gas storage and exploration. Representative Steve Thompson and Senator Joe Thomas, both from Fairbanks, have been working to get versions of these bills passed in both the Senate and House. With less than two weeks left of the session, it is unsure whether the bills will make it through both entities in time.
At a lunch and learning session last week, legislators heard about energy efficiency from Jonathan Westeinde, founder of Windmill Development Group Ltd. While Alaska now requires that 25% of public buildings be 15% more efficient by 2020, according to Jonathan Westeinde, our goals might be too low. “Ten to 20 percent is the low hanging fruit. We should look at 40 to 50 percent” says Westeinde. Read more about his presentation by clicking here.
And finally, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) began holding scoping meetings last week on the proposed Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. Hearings were held in the Mat-Su Valley on March 27th and 28th and were well attended. The chief concern among residents was the impact to salmon. Residents are also concerned about moose browse, caribou populations and ice conditions that will be affected by the dam. The Alaska Energy Authority estimates the project costs at $4.5 billion and hopes to start operating in 2023.
Here are some upcoming events to put on your calendar:
April 19th-20th: 4th Annual Business of Clean Energy. For more info, go to http://www.BCEAconference.com.
April 23rd: Got HVAC? Join Green Star and CEA for free information workshop about energy efficiency and your HVAC. Click here for more info.
Last week, long awaited energy reports were released, updates were given on the progress of the Susitna-Watana hydroelectric dam project, energy events were scheduled or took place, and on top of it all it was the start of the 2012 Legislative Session!
Two Alaska energy reports were released recently, both of which deserve a read-through. The first, titled Recommendations for Alaska Energy Efficiency and Conservation Public Education and Outreach, was prepared for the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) by Information Insights, Milepost Consulting and additional project advisors. The report provides research-based recommendations for the creating of an education and outreach plan to promote successful energy efficiency and conservation behavior in both urban and rural areas in Alaska. Recommendations include; localizing the message, framing the message and providing a clear direct energy measure.
The second was the Southeast Integrated Resource Plan (SEIRP) Technical Draft Report prepared for AEA by Black & Veatch and HDR Alaska. The SEIRP is a directional plan that identifies the types of resources, including alternative resources that should be developed in the future in the Southeast Alaska region. The report addresses demand-side management/energy efficiency and emerging technologies, such as tidal. AEA will be accepting comments on the draft until March 19,2012.
Turning from reading to listening, did you catch the story on the Susitna-Watana dam on Alaska Public Radio? As we know the project is moving at full speed ahead with AEA in the driver’s seat. However, there have been a few road blocks. A number of Alaska Native village corporations in the Cook Inlet area have land holdings near the dam site, and have recently shared their concerns with the public that they believe AEA is not addressing their land claims as they continue to push forward in project development. To find out more, listen to this five minute clip.
Lastly, make sure to have your calendar at hand, there were a number of energy events that happened this week and there will be more to come in the following weeks. Last Thursday, the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory discussed the one key barrier in developing renewable energy in Alaska – the fact that resources are located far away from population centers and transportation corridors. The event was held at the Blue Loon in Fairbanks for the ACEP Community Energy Lecture series. If you missed the discussion, don’t worry it should be posted here shortly.
If you’re interested in the Susitna-Watana Project, make sure to swing by the Terrestrial Resource Study Planning Meeting at the project office in downtown Anchorage. This meeting follows two full day meetings covering issues from the PAD Document to project specifics, such as Aquatic and Water Resources. For more information, check out the project website.
Don’t put your calendar away just yet; make sure to note the Alaska Forum on the Environment, it takes place from February 6-10, 2012. The Forum will include numerous sessions on renewable energy, including the economics of energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives for rural Alaska. For a detailed schedule, click here.
Happy Friday Alaska! We hope you have a safe and happy weekend and for your reading pleasure, here are some conservation related articles that are making headlines across the state.
As I sifted through the energy news this week, one common theme rose to the top – energy education. Industry professionals, Alaskan residents and state and federal policy makers all played the part of ‘students’ this week by taking notes on various energy topics which will guide them toward a better energy future for Alaska.
The first class was in Girdwood. On Monday and Tuesday, nearly 200 people gathered at the Alyeska Resort for the National Hydropower Association’s Alaska Regional Meeting. The two-day meeting focused on funding mechanisms, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process and old and new hydropower development in Alaska. Governor Parnell, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich, and Alaska State Senator Lesil McGuire all addressed the record breaking crowd. The take home message delivered by these speakers was that Alaska has an overwhelming amount of untapped hydropower. And of course, one can’t go to a hydro meeting in Alaska without hearing about – the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. The project was touched on, but not nearly in as much detail as you would have heard from attending Wednesday’s class.
Wednesday’s class was held in Anchorage and was dedicated to the Susitna-Watana project overview and FERC Licensing Process. Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) announced they had chosen to pursue the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP) and FERC presented the difference between the ILP and the other two processes (Alternative Licensing Process and the Traditional Licensing Process). AEA stated that the ILP provides a structured timeline which they believe is beneficial for the project. However, other governmental agencies didn’t agree that the ILP, as presented by FERC, was the best option for the project. Representatives from the National Marine Fisheries Service and Alaska Department of Fish and Game both shared their concerns that the strict timeline with the ILP would be hard to accommodate, given their limited time, budget and human resources.
This ‘classroom’ discussion was very similar to one that was held in Talkeetna earlier in the week, but included a larger number of FERC representatives. Over 50 residents participated in the Talkeetna meeting to discuss the future of the Susitna-Watana Dam. AEA and FERC officials were in town to do a site visit at the proposed dam site. The timing of the site visit was viewed as uncharacteristic because most project site visits come after the applicant (in this case-AEA) files the Pre-Application Document (PAD) with FERC. AEA plans on submitting the PAD in late November. Another common thread, besides the structure, between this meeting and the one held on Wednesday was that government agency representatives debated the licensing process with the FERC officials- “they claimed that the timelines were too strict and called the process inadequate.”
Let’s shift to studying abroad- because let’s face it- it’s just more fun. Nearly a dozen lucky Alaska lawmakers flew to Norway for the week to look at how that country is developing their renewable and fossil fuel resources. Fairbanks Senator Joe Thomas says that the Norway trip should provide some new insight on Alaska’s taxes and overall is a worthwhile trip. It is important to note that although Norway has a lot in common with Alaska, there are places where they differ. According to the notes distributed by Institute of the North, the non-profit who organized the trip, Norwegians typically read three newspapers a day, all seven of their political parties would be considered left/progressive in the United States, and all residents have access to free education, healthcare, and retirement.
Until next time- class dismissed.