UAF had presence today on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation:
I just was at a conference the last couple of days with the Southwest Alaska Municipalities. And of course, energy was a big topic (it took up the whole first day). Yesterday there was a panel featuring the Norwegian Counsel General, I believe, and our Lt. Gov. to highlight the very recent opening of a Northwest passage due to climate change. There have been ten times as many ships that have traversed the polar route in 2012 than in 2010- the number is bound to go up yearly as nations build more icebreakers this next decade. The mayors of Adak (where they have paid as much as $1.05/kwh for electricity) and Dutch Harbor were pointing as to what a game changer Alaska will be for the US if we promote and build up good infrastructure to service ships. Of course, the race is on with other nations such as Russia to control that area above the Bering Straight and over the top to Scandinavia to get goods to European markets. A torrefacted wood manufacturer and wood pellet distributor have spoken in the grapevine about the possibilities of shipping this Alaskan value-added product over the pole to Europe as they want carbon neutral product to burn. And of course, oil and LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) shippers are keeping a keen eye on the ice!
OK, British Thermal Units (BTUs) are in the news today as they are a measurement unit which people toss around to rate the potential energy of a energy source or imply the efficiency of particular machinery. Recently I saw a couple presentations of machinery which was “rated” for output of so many BTUs of space heat. While there are some units which have gone through certification types of processes which through lab tests can attest accurately to the amount of BTUs “put out”, many manufacturers make their own claims and often will also attach a subjective efficiency rating of what percentage of the potential BTUs in the fuel are actually delivered.
So, while some may have an EPA approval or UL approval, many manufacturers may be putting out numbers that come out of their own labs, done under their own procedures and data collection. This is tenuous. Worse, some vendors are making claims of the output being equal per BTUs to some dollar amount of fuel oil which from what I’ve seen involves a lot of hand waving and probably is not accurate. So, don’t ignore BTUs, but go to a reputable university or independent lab testing to try to get documented BTU and efficiency ratings of fuel and machinery output for figuring savings or fuel displacement amounts.
The auditorium at the Yakutat’s high school was populated fairly well this past Friday and Saturday as locals and others (from as far as Denver) attended workshops speaking to biomass, commercial building efficiency and wave power. It was a precursor to the Yakutat Energy Fair which will be coming up April 22, 23. Mossy covered old growth forests and world class surfing tides are resources which may be part of the solution to this unique community’s 60 cent (plus) a kilowatt hour electrical and expensive heating costs!
On the flight down to Anchorage, I ran into The Data Queen of the Interior, Janet Davison- you want facts? Go to her at the Fairbanks North Star Borough (459-1212). The Borough’s Research Quarterly often has tables and data concerning housing and energy related topics. (Average Self-service Unleaded Gasoline Prices, Electric Customers, Natural Gas Customers and Rates are a couple of the items in this past summer’s issue).
Well, it is legislative season again in Juneau, and energy is a big topic. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner this past weekend laid out brief descriptions for major projects that are being considered. The article gives some background info on time frames, corporations involved, costs and hurdles for trucking natural gas to Fairbanks, running a large pipeline to Southcentral Alaska and for a major dam in the Talkeetna area. (Take a quick look at the writeup and see if you were as familiar with these projects as you thought! http://www.newsminer.com/news/politics/article_95fec79c-6860-11e2-a8df-001a4bcf6878.html)
I had a call from a fellow a week before this past that was as far reaching as I’d ever image with our public outreach of energy information at CES. ( He wanted to know about Alaska energy policy in light of a reference the president made in his inaugural speech to green energy). Take a look at the article (link below) and see if you think the premise of my response in the first and last paragraph rings true to you….remember, use the comments section!