Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) David J. Hayes met with senior federal and state officials in Anchorage this week to discuss ways to expand renewable energy development in Alaska.
Hayes met with Alaska renewable energy experts to discuss ways to promote small-scale wind energy solutions for rural Alaskan villages. The meeting was one in a series of recent initiatives by state and federal policymakers to address the energy challenges facing rural Alaskans – particularly in off-the-grid, rural Alaska villages – and build upon the success of Alaska's growing renewable energy sector, the DOI says.
Attendees included state leaders in renewable energy, including utilities, state and federal officials, Alaska Native organizations, members of the academic community, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and industry.
"Alaska's energy resources – onshore and offshore, conventional and renewable – hold great promise and economic opportunity for the people of Alaska and across the nation," said Hayes. "While agencies across the federal government have various responsibilities to ensure safe and responsible energy development in Alaska, it is more important than ever that federal reviews of energy projects proceed in an efficient and coordinated way, with the federal government speaking with one voice."
Hayes noted that wind power has the potential to fulfill a substantial portion of Alaska's energy portfolio.
"Access to reliable, affordable energy remains a significant problem in rural Alaska," Hayes said. "One potential solution can be found in Alaska's abundant wind resources. With a number of successful wind energy projects under way across the state – from Kodiak to Kotzebue – the time is ripe to apply lessons learned and support similar projects in isolated but renewable-energy-rich villages in Alaska.
"We look forward to working closely with the state, rural energy providers, NGOs and others who have already devoted significant time and resources to address these challenges," he added.