In 2008, the price of oil hit $140 a barrel, double what it had been just a year before. The impact was felt throughout the country, and especially in Alaska, where we rely on oil in so many ways. The state budgeted $300 million to help Alaskans make their homes more energy efficient. Across the state, many residents started retrofitting their homes and burning more wood to save money.
Members of the State of Alaska’s Legislature Resource Committee got the bad news August 24 when their energy consultant reported, “The Alaska LNG Project, in its current form, is one of the least competitive natural gas fields vying for large multi-year contracts with Asian cities.” The options appear to be to put more cash into LNG, through more State ownership, or bring the cost of investment down.
In mid-July, the state’s largest electric cooperative, Chugach Electric Association, Inc., quietly handed off the leadership reins of the company from Brad Evans, who has led the cooperative since 2007, to Lee Thibert, who has held various roles at Chugach Electric for nearly thirty years.
Wind. Water. Geothermal. Air. Seawater. The sources of energy for Alaska communities seem to be growing each year. In some ways, Alaska has become a testing ground for new renewable energy projects.
While the experience leading Vitus Energy stems from men working in Western Alaska since roughly the turn of the century, the company as currently structured was founded in 2009 and began operations in 2011.
Energy underpins the health, economic vitality, and overall sustainability of communities and has been identified as a focus area and priority during the US leadership of the Arctic Council.
One of the most pressing (and frequently noted) challenges in Alaska is the cost of energy (both heat and power) in isolated, rural communities. Many are faced with inefficient energy systems that come at a considerable cost not only to community residents but to the state as a whole.