Alaska’s Wind Generation Experience: Policy Drives Performance in Creating Sustainable Utilities and CommunitiesName : Dr. R. Steven Konkel
Affliation : Visiting Associate Professor
University : University of Alaska
Country : Ireland
PURPOSE AND GOAL: Building competence of practitioners and academics to design policies enabling renewables such as wind generation to compete on “level playing fields” in provision of electrical generation capacity will move communities to sustainable utilities. BACKGROUND: Alaska’s wind generation capacity has been inventoried and updated amidst technological breakthroughs and reduced cost per kilowatt-hour installed. Providing affordable energy and drinking water and sanitation services have concerned Alaska’s Governors since Alaska Statehood in 1959. METHODS: Environmental health professors such as Dr. Tony McMichael shed light on “the cause behind the causes,” providing a framework and systematic approach to connecting environment and human health to climate. The 8-Nation Arctic Council, the US Arctic Research Commission, and the 29th Alaska State Legislature have all tackled emerging challenges in the Arctic, and changes in multi-year sea ice, rising sea levels, coastal and riverine erosion, food insecurity, subsistence changes, and numerous other impacts on indigenous populations. Alaska’s government is now pondering relocation of villages due to the impacts of climate change, and the Governor has set up a special task force under Administrative Order 289. We report on progress.
RESULTS: Mitigation and adaptation options are being discussed to deal with socioeconomic impacts at the “coalface” of developments in the Arctic. We need to choose sustainability over disaster response; renewables are part and parcel of solutions.
CONCLUSION: The Arctic Matters. A menu of options to ensure timely development of renewables such as wind generation will facilitate better decision-making. Governance mechanisms can foster development of sustainable communities.
Steven Konkel PhD MCP AICP FRIPH is passionate about connecting environment and human health. In Alaska, he has spent years working on public policy issues where environmental health practitioners can provide innovative solutions. He has conducted evaluation and programmatic work focused wind generation and sustainable communities, providing drinking water and sanitation services, and climate change and health. He has worked at Oak Ridge and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, and in the Office of the Governor, State of Alaska (Hon. Gov. Jay Hammond’s 2nd Administration). He is currently a Visiting Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Alaska.