This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.
Alaska's energy future consists of more than oil and gas. And that future is now in Toksook Bay and Kasigluk, where wind turbines cut the use of diesel fuel and cut the cost of keeping the lights on by 12 cents per kilowatt hour.
Meera Kohler, president of the Alaska Village Electric Co-operative, or AVEC, says the Kasigluk project has displaced 18 percent of the diesel that otherwise would run the generators. In Tooksok Bay, wind is good for 25 percent. Both the Western Alaska villages have three 100-kilowatt Northwest wind turbines.
The two projects, mostly funded by the federal Denali Commission, include transmission lines to smaller villages. A line connects Kasigluk to Nunapitchuk; another connects Toksook Bay to Tununak and Nightmute. With these "microgrids," one power plant can serve more than one community.
Six of the 53 villages in AVEC now tap the wind. Kasigluk and Toksook Bay have been the most successful in offsetting diesel use, earning AVEC a "Wind Cooperative of the Year" Award from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Kohler is proud of that success, but she also cautions against a rush to wind development or any fuel without careful planning.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.