Can wave energy get Yakutat off diesel? 

By Ed Schoenfeld | CoastAlaska News: Surfers from around the world travel to Yakutat’s remote beaches to catch big waves.

Now, the community, hundreds of miles away from the nearest grid, wants to make another use of that power.

“If we’re able to convert that energy that’s pounding on our shores and displace diesel, the state’s going to save a lot of money,” says Chris Rose, founder and executive director of REAP, theRenewable Alaska Energy Project.

“We’re a place that makes sense to test this stuff, because we have higher energy costs than a lot of other places,” says Rose, who’s been watching the project’s progress.

Yakutat Borough Manager Skip Ryman says the bottom line is to get away from diesel.

He says the municipal power plant sells electricity for about 57 cents a kilowatt hour. The state’s Power Cost Equalization Program halves the residential price. But still …

“People are finding that anywhere from 45 to 60 percent of their disposable income has been going for utilities and home heating,” Ryman says. “This in turn is hurting retailers. We’ve been losing families, losing kids in the school system and essentially sending the community into a bit of a death spiral.”

Yakutat, about halfway between Juneau and Cordova, has been interested in wave energy for some time.

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