Last Friday the Department of Energy had a statewide meeting with about 3 dozen people who were interested in Alaskan rural energy from a business/finance angle. The information is to help inform the overall department about tribal issues when it comes to energy. There were quite a few questions about finance models. About what the government could provide as far as grants, how federal agencies can work together on one project, the likelihood of other tribes from gaming states investing in Alaskan tribal energy projects, etc…Also discussed were the real energy sinks in various rural communities such as water, sewer, schools, etc…
Several tribes spoke of wanting to get at local fuels near their villages, such as coal. Wind and solar were the other energy sources mostly spoken of with a bit of hydro mentioned from Southeast tribes. One even spoke of a project utilizing hydrogen to run electrical generation…..
The overall impression of someone sitting in on the meeting who possibly had not been at a roundtable before of many Alaskan rural communities was that each village had different issues depending largely on their resources per location; but also they had different starting points as well as various capacities of human capital to possibly build projects in the future!
Finally, also mentioned was the opportunity to learn with other countries through an initiative which Alaska Center for Energy and Power is putting out. ‘Applications are now being accepted for the 2017 Arctic Remote Energy Networks Academy (ARENA). ARENA focuses on sharing knowledge and establishing professional networks related to microgrids and integration of renewable energy resources for remote Arctic communities, and has been endorsed by the Sustainable Development Working Group of the Arctic Council. About twenty participants, coming from across the Arctic, will be selected in late December to participate in the on-site program. (Detailed information about ARENA and the application forms are available at arena.alaska.edu or by contacting Alaska ARENA Program Manager George Roe, firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications should be submitted before December 9, 2016)’.