Alaska Governor Seeks Green Bank for Microgrids, Clean Energy

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Lawmakers in Alaska are working on legislation introduced by the governor that could create a green bank to provide funding for microgrids and other clean energy projects.

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Photo by Rocky Grimes/Shutterstock.com

On April 9, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy introduced the Alaska Energy Independence Act (SB 123HB 170) to spur sustainable energy development by issuing loans for qualified clean energy projects.

Twenty states have clean energy financing programs, also called green banks. Typically, green banks augment private investments in low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure.

The bill creates the Alaska Energy Independence Fund, which would receive an initial $10 million infusion by the state.

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority would use the fund to develop clean energy loan programs and products for Alaskans, according to Dunleavy. The authority would be able to issue bonds to support the fund. It could also buy, build, own and operate clean energy facilities.

The fund would spark Alaska’s clean energy market through private sector co-investment, Dunleavy said. It could also receive federal funds that may become available for clean energy development.

Energy storage for both remote and grid-connected microgrids and smart-grid applications would be eligible for the financing, according to the bill. Renewable energy facilities, combined heat and power, clean transportation and energy efficiency would also be eligible for financing through the fund.

Dunleavy contends his bill could help provide low-cost power in the state.

“This bill and this concept is something all Alaskans can get behind because the focus is cheap, reliable energy opportunities that can benefit all Alaskans on both a micro and a macro level,” Dunleavy said. “With the state’s abundance of renewable fuel sources, like water, wind and solar, Alaska is poised to be a leader in energy independence for its citizens.”

Alaska leads on microgrids

The state has roughly 250 permanently islanded microgrids, ranging from 30 kW up to 30 MW, according to the Alaska Center for Microgrid Technologies Commercialization, which is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

In the last decade, the state has emerged as a leader in microgrid development, with the state investing more than $250 million in renewable energy projects for the microgrids.

Bill lines up with Biden goals

The bill lines up with Biden administration goals, such as increasing funding for renewable energy and energy resilience programs.

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A bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives in February that would provide $100 billion to capitalize state green banks. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, is one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

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