Anchorage, AK – Governor Mike Dunleavy’s energy security task force has released a draft of its statewide energy plan. The plan aims to upgrade energy for three major regions in Alaska: rural communities, the coasts, and the Railbelt.
A Broad Approach
The plan takes a broad approach, mentioning fossil fuels, especially natural gas, and renewables like wind, solar, and hydropower. It also calls for developing technologies like micronuclear plants.
The specific projects mentioned are those that have been subject to long-standing criticism from proponents of renewable energy. The document calls for revisiting long-discussed megaprojects like the Susitna Dam and the Alaska Liquid Natural Gas pipeline (AKLNG project).
The AKLNG project is an 800-mile pipeline that would run from the North Slope to Cook Inlet. Critics argue that the AKLNG project would be a “carbon bomb,” emitting a massive amount of greenhouse gas that causes climate change.
The draft plan suggests that the successful completion of the pipeline would benefit Railbelt utilities, which predominantly depend on the Cook Inlet for their natural gas supply. However, the AKLNG project has a $40 billion price tag and would require selling some gas leases to buyers outside of the state, mostly in Asia. No buyers have come forward yet, and critics say the project is not financially feasible. The amount of the projected gas supply from AKLNG that would be marketed to Alaskans remains uncertain.
Promoting Renewable Energy Projects
The preliminary plan indeed outlines general objectives to advance renewable energy initiatives. This includes things like workforce development and recruitment, new financing options for renewable energy projects, and more money towards the state’s existing renewable energy fund.
Adoption of a State Clean Energy Standard
The strategy also proposes the implementation of a statewide clean energy benchmark. However, it is unclear what this standard will entail and how it will be implemented.
In conclusion, while the draft plan offers a broad approach to energy development in Alaska, it has drawn criticism for its focus on controversial megaprojects. The future of these projects and their impact on Alaska’s energy landscape remains to be seen.