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  • Monday, November 01, 2021
  • Electrify Alaska Showcased Partnerships, Resiliency and Innovation

Last week’s Electrify Alaska conference hosted by Cordova Electric Cooperative brought together the current and future partners in electric energy technology to discuss Alaska’s energy future.

Clay Koplin, the cooperative’s CEO, said during a leadership roundtable that Alaska is inherently innovative and creative when it comes to energy transitions. Alaska is using what is already in the state’s toolkit, including knowledge and experience. These are big advantages in moving to a more sustainable and resilient energy landscape, he said.

The event was attended by Cordova High School students, who directed thoughtful questions to congressional, state, community and energy leaders about Alaska’s energy future. Their participation was part of an innovation network and T3 Alliance program organized through UAF that is working on creating science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics collaborations in and between communities around the state, the country and the world.

The event featured a fireside chat, led by ACEP’s Gwen Holdmann, Koplin and Gov. Mike Dunleavy, to discuss the current energy landscape and the emerging energy resources, including hydrogen, nuclear, electric heating, electric vehicle technologies (including ferries and airplanes) and more.

Discussions throughout the event covered community resilience to disruptions such as fuel price fluctuations and infrastructure challenges. They also covered the challenges of implementing more beneficial electrification devices, such as heat pumps and electric vehicles, while keeping the systems attainable to all populations and the benefits felt across the community. One of the issues highlighted was the financial commitment to communities and households to purchase and integrate new systems and how incentive and reward programs could be structured to make the technology equitable.

The Alaska Blue Economy Center was featured in the coastal community event, which focused on boosting the local mariculture industry and possible food and energy resources derived from seaweed and kelp. ABEC, led by Justin Sternberg, is a collaboration between UAF’s College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Alaska Center for Energy and Power and UAF’s Alaska Center of Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship. It aims to boost Alaska's blue economy by serving as a resource and support center for research, instruction and outreach related to Alaska's vast aquatic resources and ecosystems.

Local seafood and locally grown greens were served during the event, showcasing Cordova’s goal of becoming more food secure. Tours of Cordova’s Power Creek run-of-river hydroelectric system, which is integrated with a battery energy storage system, concluded the event.

 

Electrify Alaska! conference participants chat during a networking break in the Cordova Center. Photo by Amanda Byrd.