Today, at the 2016 Alaska Rural Energy Conference in Fairbanks, I had the pleasure of announcing 13 communities selected to receive technical assistance as part of the Remote Alaska Communities Energy Efficiency (RACEE) Competition. The RACEE Competition is a $4 million joint effort between the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy focused on significantly accelerating efforts by remote Alaskan communities to adopt sustainable energy strategies.
Change doesn’t happen on its own. It’s led by dedicated and passionate people who are championing innovative solutions to Alaska’s energy challenges. Alaska Energy Champions is a regular feature spotlighting pioneers of Alaska’s new energy frontier.
On April 13, the documentary “Red Power Energy” made its debut as the first film in the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management’s 2016 Indigenous Film Series. Shown on the oversized screen at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s Phipps Theater, the film delivered an impactful, larger-than-life portrait of renewable and nonrenewable energy development in Indian Country today. Among the tribes featured were the Crow Nation (Montana); Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation (North Dakota); Northern Cheyenne (Montana); Oglala Lakota Nation (South Dakota); Rosebud Sioux (South Dakota); Shoshone and Arapaho Tribes of the Wind River Reservation (North Dakota); and Southern Ute (Colorado).
Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy hosted a two-day energy track and booth at the National Reservation Economic Summit (RES) in Las Vegas. After a busy few days at the conference, I had the opportunity to join Office of Indian Energy Director Chris Deschene, Senior Policy Advisor Doug MacCourt, and Program Manager Sarai Geary on a visit to a solar project on the Moapa River Reservation.
Effective insulation can result in big savings in heating and cooling costs, especially in arctic climates such as Alaska. The Energy Department's Weatherization Assistance Program is helping cold-weather families reduce their utility bills while improving the health of their homes.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy hosted a Project Development and Finance workshop in conjunction with the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference (SWAMC) Annual Economic Summit in Anchorage, Alaska.
Energy Department financial aid to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy is especially critical in Alaska because harsh climate and the enormity of the state complicates fuel and electricity distribution, resulting in some of the highest energy prices in the country. A portion of Energy Department aid to Alaska is helping with the development and testing of building energy monitoring software to increase a building efficiency and performance. The software is already being widely applied in Alaskan Native villages, cutting energy costs and providing other vital services.
As part of the Energy Department's Remote Alaskan Communities Energy Efficiency Competition, 64 communities ranging in population from 34 to 3,200 were recognized as Community Efficiency Champions this week during a visit by Energy Department Secretary Ernest Moniz. All of the communities have pledged to reduce per capita energy use by 15 percent by 2020 and are competing to be one of five communities awarded up to $3.1 million to achieve energy goals that help mitigate Alaska's high energy costs.
The Yukon River Inter-tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC) is a coalition of sovereign tribal and First Nations governments founded in 1997 to increase indigenous communities' resiliency in the Yukon River Basin. In 2009, the YRITWC partnered with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center to integrate renewable energy into innovative arctic housing design in the community of Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska.