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Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association - 2012 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association
Location: Anchorage, AK
Project Title: Feasibility of Tidal and Ocean Current Energy in False Pass, Aleutian Islands, AK
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-EE0005624
Project Amounts:
DOE: $206,956
Awardee: $17,500
Total: $224,456
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: May 2012
End: May 2013


Residents of False Pass have long known the power of the water that rushes daily through Isanotski Pass. A 2009 study funded by the Alaska Energy Authority confirmed the need to study more fully the area’s potential for tidal power. To this end, and to address their fossil fuel reduction goal, many Aleut organizations, through the Aleutian Pribilof Island Association Inc. (APIA), have begun collaborating to determine whether a tidal energy project could provide much-needed sustainable energy to the community of False Pass.

Under this project, APIA will perform a feasibility study to determine if a tidal energy project would be a viable means to generate electricity and heat to meet these long-term fossil fuel use reduction goals, particularly to produce at least 30% of the electrical and heating needs of the tribally owned buildings in False Pass. The project will promote village self-sustainability, enhance the native value of good stewardship through the wise use of renewable resources, create jobs for the community, and be an example of local energy resourcefulness for the entire region. Involving False Pass and the greater Aleut community in the worldwide development of ocean energy technology will augment the people’s feeling of worth, increase their understanding of unique energy systems, encourage their creativity, expand their management roles, and equip them with tools and expertise that they can export to other communities.

Project Description


The Aleutian Pribilof Islands region is often called the "birthplace of the winds." This nickname is a true indicator of the dynamic 1,050-mile-long island archipelago that has been the homeland of the Aleut people for 8,000 years. This region is the divide between two great bodies of water, and as such, their waters exchange and squeeze as they penetrate the narrow passages between the mainland and islands. This project will reach the traditional Unanga (Aleut) community located in the Aleutian Islands at False Pass. The community members served by this project include, but are not limited to, all Unanga Tribal members and American Indian and Alaska Native residents. Unanga territory in Alaska—a region of more than 100,000 square miles—encompasses the Aleutian Islands, the Pribilof Islands, and the Alaska Peninsula west of Stepovak Bay.

This project supports the centuries-old tradition of community self-sustainability and stewardship of the land, attempting to utilize a renewable resource to subsist. The Native Village of False Pass is more than 75% Aleut Native. The local native Isanotski Corporation has local ventures such as a store and fishermen warehouse that support the local way of life. These businesses, along with the Isanotski-owned bed and breakfast, also encourage seasonal in-migration and tourism. The False Pass Tribe also keeps a warehouse that supports the fishing industry. The Aleuts arrived in this area some 10,000 years ago. They dominated this area until the arrival of the Russian explorers in 1741. When P.E. Harris opened the first cannery here in 1917, native Aleuts immigrated to the site from the neighboring villages of Morzhovoi, Ikatan, and Sanak Island. This energy project will allow these indigenous peoples to continue living in harmony in their native land and sea.

Project Objectives

The objectives of the feasibility study are: 1) determine the viability of the current resource in the vicinity of False Pass for energy production, 2) provide an economic analysis of a tidal energy project at False Pass, and 3) provide environmental and permitting analyses identifying and documenting critical issues. This project will emphasize objective number 1, tidal energy resource determination, and provide less in-depth effort on the economic and environmental analyses (objectives 2 and 3).

To accomplish these goals the following objectives will be achieved: 1) collect existing bathymetric, tidal, and ocean current data at the site to develop a basic model of current circulation at False Pass; 2) measure current velocities at a site of interest for a full lunar cycle to establish the viability of the current resource; 3) collect data on transmission infrastructure, electrical loads, and electrical generation at False Pass; 4) perform economic analysis based on current cost of energy and amount of energy anticipated from and costs associated with the tidal energy project conceptual design; and 5) consult with agencies and perform literature review to scope permitting process and identify key environmental issues.

Project Scope

The project scope includes the following tasks:

  • Task 1 – Circulation modeling of False Pass
  • Task 2 – Initial site visit to perform reconnaissance bathymetry for Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) deployment and deploy an ADCP for a full lunar cycle
  • Task 3 – Electrical infrastructure and load analysis
  • Task 4 – Conceptual project design
  • Task 5 – Initiation of permitting consultation and environmental assessment
  • Task 6 – Economic assessment
  • Task 7 – Completion of final report on this feasibility study and project closeout

Project Location

The Aleutian Islands extend westward over 1,300 miles from the southwestern corner of the Alaska mainland and include the Pribilof Islands, which lie to the north. This area is distributed over approximately 100,000 square miles, a region slightly larger than Virginia, Kentucky, and Maryland combined.

Project Status

The project is complete. For details, see the final report.

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's fiscal year 2011 funding opportunity announcement "Renewable Energy Development and Deployment in Indian Country" (DE-FOA-0000422) and started in May 2012.

The October 2012 and March 2014 project status reports provide more information.

For current project status or additional information, please contact the project contact.

Project Contact

Dimitri Philemonof
1131 E International Airport Road
Anchorage, AK  99518

Bruce Wright
Senior Scientist
1131 E International Airport Road
Anchorage, AK 99518