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By Samuel R. Avro on Nov 25, 2008 with no responses

Energy Alternatives Vying For State Aid


JUNEAU, Alaska — The state of Alaska has $450 million worth of requests to fund various alternative energy projects, but it only has $100 million for these efforts.

Now, with oil prices plummeting $100 a barrel since the summer, some lawmakers and community leaders are hoping interest in alternative projects doesn’t fade as well.

“I’m very concerned that if the state has less money, they’re going to cut back on these kinds of programs,” said Jodi Mitchell, executive director of the Inside Passage Electric Cooperative.

The cooperative is a Juneau-based, member-owned utility hoping to bring affordable hydroelectric power from Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. to Hoonah, about 35 miles west of Juneau.

Mitchell’s organization is part owner of Kwaan Electric Intertie Cooperative, a joint operation with AEL&P. Kwaan’s group is among several communities or organizations applying to the Alaska Energy Authority for money.

In this case, it’s hoping for $37.5 million to fund construction of the intertie.

Last spring, the Legislature allocated $50 million to the Alaska Energy Authority for alternative projects such as wind, biomass and tidal energy. During a summertime special session it allocated another $50 million.

But that was when oil was still climbing toward $140 a barrel. Now it’s closer to the $50 a barrel range. Proponents are hoping the sagging oil price doesn’t force the alternative projects to back burner.

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