Commentary: Alaska a frontier for green energy

This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.

We've got wind power in Alaska -- think Kotzebue now and Fire Island soon. We've got hydro -- think the Four-Dam Pool now and Chakachamna soon, maybe. We've got people in Alaska working with solar panels and good old-fashioned firewood. There are ways to make power out of sawdust and ways to harness the tides.

But to many of us these still seem like pipe dreams or individual efforts or local, limited projects. Cottage industries at best.

That's what the Legislature voted to try to change with the Renewable Energy Fund.

Right now the Alaska Energy Authority is going through 112 applications requesting more than $450 million in grants for projects that run the gamut of alternative energies -- wind, geothermal, hydro, tidal, biomass. According to Alaska Energy Authority spokesman Karsten Rodvik, there's a wide geographic spread as well.

They won't all make the cut. Lawmakers provided $100 million for the fund in the 2009 fiscal year for Round One projects. The first round comprises the 112 in the hunt now; the fund will make its recommendations to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee later this month with final approvals no later than the first quarter of 2009. One of the criteria for Round One projects is that they can be swiftly done.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.

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