In northwest #Alaska, a #remote village called #Buckland is about to benefit from a new #solar project. The goal of the solar project is to lower high utility costs in the area when three #solar arrays are turned on this week. Next year, according to Alaska’s #Energy Desk, a battery system will be operational, too.
This solar project is seeing a great deal of support by both the United States Department of Energy and Northwest Alaska Native Association. The focus on solar demonstrates a push in the region toward clean, renewable energy. Upon reading more about Buckland and local electric costs, you will see why there is a desire to go solar.
The Benefits of Solar in a Remote Village
Solar can majorly help remote villages in Alaska. How? Well, to start, out in Buckland, you will find very few people – roughly 400. Roughly 75 miles from Kotzebue, the village can only be accessed by plane or boat. Now, here’s the kicker: the majority of its current power is the result of diesel, as it comes from generators. Out in rural Alaska, one can be looking at extremely expensive costs for electricity. As a matter of fact, monthly bills can be in the ballpark of $1,000, or six times the national average. The numbers alone are enough to make one living elsewhere re-think complaining about their electric bill!
Even though a state subsidy program assists in lowering electric bills, locals still have to pay the total cost in the event they surpass 500 kilowatt hours in their monthly billing cycle. This is more than half the national average for a residential power bill.
In accordance with state data, out in Buckland, one is looking at 47 cents per kilowatt hour. For comparison, the cost would be 19 cents in a place like Anchorage. Needless to say, there is a desire to shift toward solar energy because people want to get away from fuel. Erik Weber runs the water plant in the village and has said that everyone wants to move away from fuel.
Solar Saves Money
It might be surprising to many, but electric costs can be even higher in other parts of Alaska. Buckland is on a river, and diesel can come in on a barge. But in a place such as Noatak, fuel sometimes has to be flown in. Clearly, solar can make a very welcomed difference. Oil price fluctuations many, many miles away are negatively impacting too many people. Shifting to solar and other forms of renewable energy is important.
While the solar project is sure to be beneficial, it is not likely to drop electric prices overnight. However, solar projects like this could assist in the protection of villages against diesel price spikes, as per the association’s director of energy, Sonny Adams.
The three new solar arrays could make a world of difference when it comes to sky-high electric prices. Once this new solar project is operational and connected with wind turbines, Buckland should be able to turn off its diesel generators for a good amount of time in the summer. The solar arrays were put into place earlier this year, however, they were not turned on. Now, everything is set and ready for operation.
The goal is for the solar project in this remote Alaskan village to be a stepping stone and a point of reference for other locations. If this solar project is as impactful as it is expected to be, then it will prove solar can truly make waves.
Continue to follow solar news to learn about the latest and greatest solar projects popping up all over the planet. Is your neighborhood being impacted by solar or renewable energy in general? Have you noticed solar panels going up on new homes? What about solar farms in nearby areas? Think about how solar could be used to make a positive difference where you live. The possibilities seem endless!