This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
USDA Funds Rural Renewable Energy Projects in Alaska and Hawaii
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on July 17th announced funding for three projects that will bring more renewable energy to Alaska and Hawaii. In Hawaii, more than $1.1 million will go towards installing 300 solar hot water systems on the island of Molokai. Homeowners there pay 23.7 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity, and solar hot water systems typically cut their electrical bills by 45 percent. In Alaska, nearly $400,000 will go towards a small hydroelectric plant in Atka, replacing expensive diesel fuel as a power source and providing electricity for the town's seafood processing plant. Another $2.5 million will go to the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC), in part to help fund four new 50-kilowatt wind turbines to be installed in Chevak. The Chevak project will also include a new 1,570-kilowatt diesel-fired power plant with a heat recovery system, allowing the cooperative to make use of 50 percent of the energy in the diesel fuel. The projects are part of $14.9 million in grants awarded by USDA's High Energy Cost Program, which aims to improve energy services in rural areas with high energy costs. See the USDA press release and list of grant recipients.
AVEC serves the largest land area of any electric cooperative in the world, providing power to about 20,000 people in 51 remote villages by drawing on more than 144 diesel generators. In May, AVEC installed four 50-kilowatt wind turbines near Selawik. See the AVEC Web site home page and "About AVEC" page.
AVEC's new projects tie in well with the draft Alaska Rural Energy Plan, prepared by the Alaska Energy Authority. The plan places an emphasis on using wind turbines, more efficient diesel generators, and heat recovery from diesel generators to meet the state's rural energy needs. The plan also calls for increased energy efficiency. See the draft plan on the Alaska Energy Authority Web site.