Renewable Energy Atlas of Alaska – Updated Version!
Check out the new and improved guide to Alaska’s Clean, Local and Inexhaustible Energy Resources. The 2016 Renewable Energy Atlas of Alaska is a collaboration between Alaska Energy Authority and REAP.
Norway and — MGM Grand in Vegas?
What does a major Las Vegas casino and the country of Norway have in common? Two major events in June caught our notice: Norway’s vote to end fossil mobility fuels and MGM Grand’s decision to leave its utility company, Nevada Power.
Norwegian legislators applied the brakes aggressively to fossil fuel vehicles. According to several reports, the national legislature voted to end the sale of diesel and gasoline vehicles in the country by 2025. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has made countless visits to Scandinavian countries of late, tweeted the news. It was then reported in other publications. The purpose of the legislation is to transition to country toward emissions-free mobility. Norway, like Alaska, is a major oil exporter.
The MGM Grand in Las Vegas announced that it would pay $86.9 million to leave Nevada Power, effective October 1st, 2016. The hotel and resort cited environmental reasons, and the need to respond to their customers’ demand for renewable power faster than the utility was willing to accommodate. MGM represented the largest percent of Nevada Power’s total revenue from electricity sales. Another casino, the Wynn is also expected to leave the utility company’s service, paying a $15 million goodbye fee. Analysts say the economic model for these casinos’ large energy consumption enable them to procure their own Power Purchase Agreements more cost effectively. Though details of a PPA to supply MGM’s energy have not been released, MGM has already begun to offset a portion of its energy use. In 2013 the casino initiated installation of a 6.2 MW array with NRG Solar, which offsets 26% of on-site demand.
Both examples illustrate how rapidly institutions and systems that were considered static can change.
“If every choice we make can be a celebration of the world we want,” as Frances Moore Lappe said, then REAP’s choice of summer interns is an occasion to revel in the world of intelligence and capacity. We thank Yale for funding two REAP interns this year, and local Yale alum Bob Mitchell for his exceeding care and stewardship of their practical logistics. Similarly, we thank Professor Alan McGowan at The New School in New York for generously providing for REAP’s third intern. Finally, thanks to Will Cushwa for seeking REAP out by himself. Will found us last December when he was on semester break and is back to help this summer. Please meet, from left to right:
Peter Gerson: A senior at Yale studying in Economics, and engaged in the certificate program for Energy Studies, Peter played Division I football for Yale during his first three years of school. Past summer internships were at Gatorade and MetLife. Peter has already been seeking his first king salmon at Ship Creek after work.
Leroy Zhang: A sophomore at Yale studying both Economics and Math, Leroy has been active in speech and debate, is an Eagle Scout, and is bilingual in Chinese and English. During a summer internship before college, Leroy successfully calculated the orbit of a near-earth asteroid through python code that he developed.
Peter and Leroy are looking at ways to finance renewable project developments in Alaska without the benefit of grants through the Renewable Energy Fund.
Ana Remis: A junior at Parsons the New School in New York, Ana is earning her BA in Environmental Studies and a BFA in Design & Technology. She was valedictorian of her high school class in Miami, where she was raised speaking Spanish and English. Past work experience includes the New York Stem Cell Foundation.
Ana is creating extensive communications collateral for REAP including infographics, announcements and a short video about the AK EnergySmart education curriculum.
Will Cushwa: A senior in Texas Tech’s Wind Energy program, Will is the recipient of the Texas Tech Presidential Scholarship. Will has held various jobs in the restaurant industry and has worked at Northern Air Cargo.
Will is developing case studies and fresh content for the Islanded Grid Resource Center website that REAP maintains and is updating the forthcoming Community Clean Energy Toolkit.
Single Most Impactful Climate Agreement Ratified
UN Climate Conference in Paris
Keep global temperature rise below 2°C, demand transparency in emissions, and hold all nations to some degree of legal accountability — these top the list of outcomes from the 2015 UN Climate Conference. The Summit concluded Saturday in Paris, but not without a heart-pounding race to the finish that included a daylong extension to the 14-day effort. The world now has its “first truly international plan to address climate change.” The Paris Agreement will certainly impact, and positively shape, Alaska’s clean energy economy in the years to come. The carbon reduction goals demanded will stoke investments that create jobs and opportunity.
Here are the highlights of the agreement, according to US Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern:
- The architecture has fundamentally changed from previous Conference Of Parties (COP) summits. Now, standards apply to both developing and developed nations. This matters, since previous protocols were hampered by disagreement on the premise that developed and developing economies should have different standards. Now, the standards are equal for all.
- The ambitious goal to keep global mean temperature change below 2°C (if not striving for 1.5 °C) was adopted.
- All 195 signatory nations will revisit these targets every five years, making adjustments to it as necessary.
- Nations committed to tracking carbon emissions transparently. This is the primary clause that legally binds countries. Nations are not however bound to achieve the emissions targets established. Countries shall perform carbon inventories subject to expert and peer review on the progress toward their targets.
- Enhanced focus on adaptation.
- Secretary John Kerry has so far committed the US to provide $800M for the adaptation fund.
- A “path of high ambition” toward carbon neutrality in the course of this century.
Whether critics think that the agreement goes too far, or that elements are insufficient, one inarguable point is that the accord is historic: this is the single most unified and legally binding global agreement on climate the world has ever seen.
Katherine Hamilton of 38 North Solutions, and a commentator on the Energy Gang podcast, noted that COP21 enjoyed unprecedented support from the business community, specifically calling out We Mean Business. “They are trying to put their money where their mouths are to be sure that everyone is brought along in a way the corporate world is bought in to.” Indeed major firms like Nike, Ikea, Unilever, Starbucks, HP, not to mention Shell, BP, Statoil, Total and others within the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative all seek clear regulation of carbon.
Leaving the sausage-making nature of a carbon treaty aside, let’s recall that “adaptation” indicates serious threats to most of the world’s poor: rising sea levels, increased likelihood of infestations, and violent storms are inescapable for this vulnerable population. Sun Edison founder and clean energy investor Jigar Shah quipped that that “those of us who live with luxury — with air conditioning and access to a car — already have built in adaptation yet a lot of folks around the world don’t.”
Who we are
Renewable Energy Alaska Project is a coalition of energy stakeholders working to facilitate the development of renewable energy in Alaska through collaboration, education, training, and advocacy.