Monday, July 27, 2015 – 12:45am
As most Alaskans can attest, energy in The Last Frontier is expensive.
The average residential electricity rate of more than 18 cents per kWh is a full 50 percent higher than the national average, ranking among the highest in the country. That’s in part because outside the 50 hydro plants throughout the state, most of Alaska’s rural communities rely on imported diesel for their electricity.
But the folks of Kodiak Island (pop. 15,000) in southern Alaska — powered almost 100 percent with renewable energy — have a different story to tell.
Although Kodiak Island, the second-largest island in the United States, relied on hydropower for 80 percent of the electricity production, it was also burning 2.8 million gallons of diesel per year, at an annual cost of $7 million.
In the face of climate change and high electricity costs, the board and managers at Kodiak Electric Association (KEA) set a goal of producing 95 percent of the community’s electrical needs with renewable energy by 2020.
They actually arrived there well ahead of time, and are now 99.7 percent renewably powered by wind and hydro.