Alaska Signs Renewable Energy Legislation

House Bill 306 establishes an energy policy to guide the Legislature, administration, utilities, conservation groups, and Alaskans toward the goal of providing more affordable, abundant, and reliable energy.

“The policy encourages coordination of government functions and streamlines regulatory processes across all levels of government,” Governor Parnell said. “Good energy policy opens doors and promotes responsible, sustainable development. It offers hope and lightens the burden for those whose energy bills skyrocket in the winter and remain costly in the warmer summer months.”

HB 306 sets a goal for Alaska to generate 50 percent of its electricity through renewable resources by 2025, primarily through hydroelectric projects. Wind energy, solar power, geothermal tidal, hydrokinetic and biomass energy will also be utilized.

Senate Bill 220, the Alaska Sustainable Energy Act, implements a statewide energy policy that recognizes the importance of Alaska’s fossil fuel resources and also identifies Alaska’s vast renewable energy potential. The bill includes a broad range of policy tools designed to attract investment in Alaska’s energy sector and stimulate the economy.

SB 220 also creates the Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund in the Alaska Housing and Finance Corporation (AHFC). This authorizes AHFC to capitalize the fund through the issuance of $250 million in bonds. This fund could create 1,500 to 2,000 jobs in the Alaska construction industry, as energy efficiency improvements are made to public buildings.

School districts, municipalities, state government and the University of Alaska system will all have access to low-interest loan funds from this new program to achieve energy savings.

Additionally, SB 220 directs the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to evaluate state buildings for energy efficiency and to recommend 25 percent for energy updates, starting with those determined to be the least energy efficient. This work is scheduled for completion by 2020, and all projects are expected to achieve real dollar savings within 15 years.

The legislation also creates the Emerging Energy Technology Fund, which can be used to make grants for demonstration projects of technology that will be commercially viable within five years.