Speech: Working toward 50% renewables by 2025
Alaska Power Association 61st Annual Meeting
Governor Sean Parnell
August 9, 2012
Thank you, Marilyn Leland. It is good to be among people who are bold, innovative and visionary.
That’s you -- and it is good to see you working together on energy for Alaska.
The Future of Energy – truly -- it is the future of our state. Here in the city that hydro built -- we think of Juneau and its history as a mining town, as Alaska’s capital, as a tourist destination, and much more.
Very little of this would be possible, if not for hydro power.
You appreciate that more than most: The relationship between power and progress.
You appreciate that Juneau is not just sitting on a gold mine – the AJ Mine. It also has liquid gold -- water rolling down these mountains, powering an entire economy.
So thank you, AEL&P, and Inside Passage Electric Cooperative for hosting this meeting.
And thank you, Alaska Power Association, for your great work on behalf of communities. Thank you for all the work you do to grow our state.
Alaska is a vast treasure trove of resources and opportunities for our people. Resources and opportunity in hydro and in hydrocarbon, in wind generation and geothermal, in better delivery of kilowatt hours and in energy conservation.
All of these areas have a role in Alaska’s energy frontier. And I think it’s an exciting time for you all to be in your positions of leadership.
- Over in Gustavus, they have gone practically all hydro, with very little dependence on diesel. Just a few years ago, they were burning 20-thousand gallons a month of diesel.
- Ketchikan – the Federal Building and Coast Guard are looking at biomass generators, even as we’ve improved hydro capacity in recent years.
- Regarding the Kake-Petersburg Intertie, IPEC, SEAPA and AEA have cooperated in developing a regional solution with energy benefits to Kake.
- SEAPA has agreed to take a lead role and possible ownership in the potential development of this project to bring hydro to Kake, which is now diesel-dependent.
- Kodiak is combining wind and hydro to reduce diesel generation to 6.5 percent of its usage.
- The Anchorage Regional Landfill just powered up a methane plant for electricity.
- And the Southcentral Power Project, a joint project with Municipal Light and Power, is constructing a new gas-fired power plant that should be in operation this year.
- We recognize all these projects and, frankly, there are many more, too many to list.
For “hydro veterans” here in Southeast, the good news about a rainy summer is the reservoirs are full and will keep the lights on as we head into fall and winter. It’s a different scene up north this month. Along the rivers for the next few weeks, they’re buying diesel, taking barges up those rivers, loading the tanks, and getting ready for winter.
In the book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies,” the authors coined the term: “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.”
A B-HAG may look impossible from the outside, but people on the inside of a visionary group know that they can achieve this goal. And having such a big goal can help them move toward a shared and prosperous future.
In oil production, we set the B-HAG of a million barrels per day.
On the education front, we set the B-HAG of a 90 percent high school graduation rate, while meeting more rigorous curriculum standards.
And our big goal in energy is achieving 50 percent of Alaska’s electricity from renewable resources by the year 20-25.
You are the energy professionals with vision to get us there. So let’s talk about where we are in achieving this 50 percent renewable goal we share; because while the timeframe to 2025 is short, the checklist is long.
As you know, much of our effort will be to move water through turbines. Alaska, unlike the Feds, considers hydropower a renewable resource, one that will get us to our goal.
Last month I had the opportunity to visit the site where the Susitna-Watana hydroelectric project will be built. I was able to stand on the river bank right about where the dam will span the gorge, upstream from Devil’s Canyon.
It is truly a natural location made for this proposed dam. It’s a very narrow, natural gorge with walls up several hundred feet on both sides. When all is said and done, we will have a long finger lake in a remote and relatively confined area.
We also flew over several feasible road options for supplies and equipment that will need to be brought to the site.
Susitna-Watana is a big part of this state’s energy picture for the next 100 years. It will be one of Alaska’s signature projects in the 21st Century. That, and a gas line, of course!
Susitna-Watana is the right-sized project to meet Railbelt energy needs, and help meet the needs of rural Alaska through lower cost products and services statewide.
Regarding the FERC process, the proposed study plan for Susitna-Watana has been submitted. It already involves over 50 individual studies. I know you will be hearing more details on this project from the Alaska Energy Authority, and I will leave the details to them.
Additionally, we must aggressively address the power and space heating needs of our state’s second largest community, Greater Fairbanks. With us today, in addition to AEA Director Sara Fisher-Goad, is Gene Therriault, who has just joined AEA as a deputy director to strengthen their lead role on energy policy and to work with our office.
We are working on an All-Of-The-Above strategy because one size will not fit all. Not in Fairbanks, or Western Alaska, or even here in Southeast.
The answer is going to come from every direction. We’ve got to drill down into storage solutions. We can do even more as a research and development laboratory for cold climate energy conservation. We must stay focused on the milestones for a gasline to tidewater and spur lines to communities to lessen the burden on electrical generation and heat distribution.
AHFC home efficiency programs, commercial energy audits, revolving loan programs – all are part of an All-Of-The-Above strategy.
What’s more, this year AEA has increased its technical assistance and renewable energy project development for rural communities.
We will continue to develop powerhouses that are right-sized, efficient, and that can be integrated with renewable energy resources as they become available.
And we will continue to support agency coordination to get power to the people.
To review some recent legislation:
In June, I signed Senate Bill 25, the Alaska Sustainable Strategy for Energy Transmission and Supply. This grows opportunity for new energy infrastructure.
It created a new fund at AIDEA for financing energy development, allowing AIDEA to make direct loans for energy projects.
In addition, we’ve reauthorized AEA’s Renewable Energy Fund program and at least $200 million has been committed to more than 200 projects to date.
And House Bill 250 puts $50 million every year for the next 10 years to the Renewable Energy Grant Fund.
We invested over $1 billion in energy projects and programs last year alone.
These are just a few ways we are reducing the cost of energy throughout Alaska, using the resources appropriate in each region.
As we move ahead, we are fortunate to have the financial resources that come from oil production, so we can invest in solutions.
Stemming oil production decline continues to be a priority for all Alaskans. Currently, oil revenues represent 90 percent of our general fund. Oil pays for public services in education, safety, transportation.
And oil pays for capital projects, and investments we make in renewables.
I welcome your help in impressing upon legislators, particularly our friends in the Alaska Senate, the critical need to boost up the level of oil being produced on the North Slope, so we can continue to invest in diversifying our energy supplies. Thank you.
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