Commentary: Alaska is turning to renewable energy

The most powerful message in Sunday's Anchorage Daily News story about wind turbines and other renewable power projects in Alaska is simply that they exist. They are working.

They are lighting and heating homes and businesses and villages.

From the chiropractor in Palmer to villages like Chevak, people are cutting their dependence on fossil fuels and tapping clean, renewable energy and saving money in the process.

Oil and gas will provide our mainstay fuels for some time to come. But look around, as reporter Rindi White did in the story "Power hungry," and you can see both an intriguing present and a growing future.

Both the state and federal governments have significant investments in renewable energy projects in Alaska. But it's clear that some Alaskans aren't waiting for an official policy or the next conservation program. That's encouraging because it means we can learn from both state-backed projects and individual efforts what works, both in engineering and financial terms.

Renewable energy that breaks the bank -- either a family's or an agency's -- isn't going to help. But renewable energy that pays for itself in the not-too-long run is energy that will sell itself.

The Alaska Village Electric Cooperative hopes to cut more than 20 percent of its $5 million annual diesel bill through its wind turbines. A Valley couple is heating their home with sun-warmed water as a way to cut energy costs without cutting comfort. Chena Hot Springs generates power from the geothermal sources that warm resort visitors.

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