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Spring Brings New Growth in More Ways Than One

We don’t need apple blossoms to tell us it is spring. The longer daylight hours let us know winter is over, even though it might be Independence Day before all the snow is melted and everyone can put away their sump pumps and big fans, and use their skiffs for fishing instead of side-street navigation. In the meantime, we’d like our readers to navigate to the two special sections we’ve put together this month—the annual Corporate 100 and Alternative Energy—as well as the rest of the magazine.

Corporate 100: Top Citizens of Industry is by far the largest special section of the two. We congratulate these 100 companies for being driving forces in the Alaska economy—some do business nationally and internationally as well. In addition to the listing, we’ve included a leadership article speaking to the importance of having a succession plan, not just for top leadership, but for all key employees—sound principles for business growth. Plus there are features on three of the Corporate 100, focusing on these companies’ leaders and corporate contributions to Alaska’s economy and communities: Alaska Airlines, Alaska Housing Finance Corp., and Alyeska Resort.

The other special section, Alternative Energy, might be small, but provides an enormous amount of information on a sector of the economy that is growing. We are working on expanding coverage and plan to include an Alternative Energy Directory of firms doing business in Alaska in a future monthly issue as well as the next Power List. For now, we’ve included information about some high profile hydro, wind and solar projects.

One article features the Susitna-Watana Dam. This appears to be a poster child for Alaska to meet one of the legislative intents of the so-called state energy policy passed in 2010 (HB306) with one project. This particular intent is that “the state receive 50 percent of its electric generation from renewable and alternative energy sources by 2025.” If all goes as planned (it may not, you’ll have to read the article to find out why), the multi-billion dollar Susitna-Watana hydro project will be under construction by 2017 and completed by 2023, supplying 2.6 million megawatts of electricity annually.

Susitna-Watana production could bring the total electricity generated in Alaska by renewable means to well over 50 percent, since 25 percent is already being produced through alternative means. A lofty accomplishment, and perhaps by then more of rural Alaska will be connected by some sort of grid as well, so our most energy-challenged communities can share in economies of scale such as the Railbelt enjoys. Also examined this month are wind and solar energy production, with a look at some of the off-grid and on-grid projects for renewable power generation across Alaska.

We’ve put together another really great issue, full of interesting and informative articles about Alaska business and the people who make it happen.

This column originally appeared in the April 2012 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly magazine.

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