On a High Note: Major Alaska Utility Swaps Coal for Renewables
In Alaska, coal’s 100-year-long reign as the state’s dominant fuel source is officially set to come to an end -- following years of operational inefficiencies. The Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) recently announced that Healy Unit 2, the state’s largest coal plant, will close by 2024. The plant’s operating body also indicated an intent to embrace the statewide shift towards renewables by investing in wind energy, pollution control equipment, and workforce retraining.
Given current roadblocks to clean energy development at a national level, including the Supreme Court’s restriction on the EPA’s power to regulate emissions and the global energy crisis increasing coal demand, state initiatives are more important than ever. Elsewhere in Alaska, the systematic shift to renewables is already underway. The Kodiak Electric Association, for example, operates a 99% renewable grid located on Kodiak Island, which provides a blueprint for the transition that GVEA and others might be able to follow.
“Every place is unique and site-specific,” Jennifer King, a regulatory specialist at Kodiak Electric, tells Popular Science. “That is the challenge with every energy and especially renewable energy. You got to work with the resources that you have. But there are other places where it can be done as well, if people are willing to give it a chance.”
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