Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy wrapped up the first Sustainable Energy Conference on Thursday, May 26, 2022, celebrating the robust conversations surrounding renewable energy and energy independence in Alaska. The conference was a three-day event featuring some 90 speakers and around 550 attendees at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska.
In his closing remarks, Governor Dunleavy referred to the Alaska state motto, North to the Future. He stated, “[North to the Future] allows us to think differently. That allows us to be creative. That allows us to take risks.”
Governor Dunleavy was pleased to have a group of bipartisan speakers such as former Democratic Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., Linden Energy Holdings COO Ray Leonard, Chena Hot Springs Resort owner and geothermal pioneer Bernie Karl, former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, former Secretary of Energy and Republican Governor of Texas Rick Perry, and Democratic Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards.
To kick off the conference, Governor Dunleavy signed SB 177, a bill on microreactors, a factory-built system small enough to be transported by a truck that typically generates 1 to 10 megawatts of electricity. One megawatt can power nearly 1,000 homes. The bill will smooth the regulatory process for the siting of micro nuclear reactors as the technology is proven through multiple studies now underway, including at Eielson Air Force Base and by Copper Valley Electric Cooperative.
On day two, the Alaska Energy Authority and the Railbelt utilities announced plans to spend more than $200 million on transmission line upgrades. These enhancements will reduce line losses, increase capacity, allow for the integration of renewable energy projects, and improve the delivery of power from the Bradley Lake Hydroelectric Project to Railbelt consumers. Governor Dunleavy also moderated a panel covering the Abundance of Cook Inlet with speakers from the public and private sector outlining the massive potential for wind, geothermal, tidal, hydrogen, and carbon sequestration situated strategically within miles of the state’s population hub and Railbelt grid.
On the third and final day of the Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference, panelists discussed topics like Mining in a Net-Zero World and Scaling-up Geothermal in Alaska. The lunch hour was met with Tony Seba’s talk on disruptive phases for the world as we know it. Alternative fuels, dealing with carbon, nuclear’s role in a sustainable future, and powering Asia from Alaska’s LNG, rounded out the afternoon.
“Over the last couple of days, I’ve seen incredible ideas being generated,” said Governor Dunleavy. “Like a lot of you from Alaska, I love this state; I can’t think of a state I’d rather be in. We’ve got some problems to overcome, but they’re actually surmountable. And with the increased technology and understanding and the need that some folks have from Adak to further west, to Barrow to down to Ketchikan, I think we can come up with an energy approach that provides sustainable, low-cost energy, takes care of the environment, and, for me, most importantly, provides a place for kids and grandkids to live.”
The next Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference will be hosted the week of May 22, 2023, at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska.