Reducing fuel costs critical to rural survival 

By Margaret Bauman in the Bristol Bay Times: As rural Alaska continues to struggle with high energy prices, efforts are increasing to reduce dependence on fossil fuels with more research into renewable energy and conservation, and improving the efficiency of existing fuel systems.

“We are interested in reducing costs of fuel to assure the survival of rural communities, because fuel costs are killing rural Alaska,” Meera Kohler, president and chief executive officer of the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative told participants in the Alaska Oil and Gas Symposium in Anchorage this week.

AVEC, which is actively engaged in renewable energy wind projects, serves 53 communities, from Kivalina on the western arctic coast to Old Harbor on Kodiak Island to the south, and from Gambell on St. Lawrence Island to Minto, in the Interior. Minto is the only one of the 53 communities on the road system. All other AVEC communities may be reached only air or by marine vessel. AVEC hopes to substantially reduce the use of diesel fuel used in its member communities by employing wind power. One of AVEC’s first wind projects, in Wales, displaces close to 16,000 gallons of fuel annually, Kohler said. That’s almost one-third of the diesel fuel used by the community. Read more

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