Tribes, local governments, utility companies and housing authorities have two weeks left to apply for funding for the renewable energy projects in Selawik, Noorvik, Ambler and Kiana.
The deadline to apply is fast approaching: Alaska Energy Authority will accept submissions for its Alaska Renewable Energy Fund, Round 14, until 4 p.m. Jan 18.
Whichever renewable energy system you have in mind – from hydropower to wind, from solar to geothermal, and from waste heat recovery to nontoxic biomass – the fund provides grant money for design and construction of renewable energy projects, Brandy Dixon, authority’s communications director, said. Additionally, applications can be for early project phases, for example, reconnaissance or feasibility study.
“The pursuit of renewable energy generation projects in rural and remote areas of Alaska does help to secure long-term cost stabilization concerning electricity generation as they help to offset a portion of a community’s reliance on diesel fuel and in doing so, reduce the community’s financial exposure to volatile diesel fuel prices,” Dixon explained.
The statewide fund program was established by the Alaska State Legislature in 2008, and in 2012 was extended 10 years to 2023. Since its inception 244 grants have been awarded to projects totaling $275 million. Over 95 projects are now operating, collectively saving more than 30 million gallons of diesel each year.
“Reduced diesel fuel consumption also decreases the emission of harmful airborne particulate matter within a community, and climate change contributes to carbon Emissions,” Dixon added. “Renewable energy systems also can reduce long-term electric utility operating costs as renewable energy systems generally require less frequent and lower-cost maintenance intervals.”
Installing such projects comes not without challenges.
“The geographic location of Northwest Arctic communities, and for most locations in Alaska, limits viable solar energy production to only the summer months,” Dixon said. “Recurring harsh winter weather could also potentially reduce the useful life of Solar PV installations over the long term.”
Besides, before installing a renewable energy system, a tribe or utility company should consider how heating in the community is supplied. If it is through the use of a diesel-generator heat recovery system, then lost heat will need to be replaced by some alternative means, such as an electric boiler.
“It’s also important to determine whether the current community electric system is capable of handling a hybrid grid design,” she said. ” Solar works when the sun is out and wind works when there is sufficient wind. “It may prove too costly or difficult to integrate the renewable energy project into the community grid.”
You may complete the online application at www.akenergyauthority.org/ or print the application here and mail or deliver to Alaska Energy Authority, ATTN: Renewable Energy Fund Grant Application, 813 W Northern Lights Blvd. , Anchorage, AK 99503
All funding for REF projects is subject to Legislative approval and appropriation. It is estimated that funding approval by the Legislature would occur in July 2022.