Utility Member Action Campaign
Five easy steps to reduce Alaska’s greenhouse gas emissions
In honor of Earth Day, here are five easy steps Alaska’s Electric Utility Coops and Boroughs can take this year to save money and significantly reduce our individual and collective greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions:
1. Adopt emission reduction goals
As the planet warms, we know we need to steeply reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. According to the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others, we need to reach net-zero green house gas emissions by 2050.
This January Golden Valley Electric Association in Fairbanks took the lead by adopting the goal of reducing emissions 26% by 2030. There are multiple benefits of cutting GhG emissions including; improving local air quality, protecting the climate, saving ratepayers money by reducing the need for utilities to buy and burn expensive fracked gas that also harms Cook Inlet ecosystems and communities.
According to the GVEA website, the 26% reduction will be measured against the utility’s 2012 emission levels and management will use a variety of methods to achieve the reductions, including renewable energy, waste-heat recovery, demand-side management, alternative fuels and energy storage.
We’d like to see the other Railbelt utilities follow suit and then some by setting a GhG reduction goal of 50% by 2030 and net-zero by 2050 (or sooner). These goals are ambitious but are in keeping with the goal of keeping the planet well below 2 degrees C warming.
2. Cheap Energy Efficiency Gadgets
ComEd Market Place offers deep discounts to utility coops that they could pass on to members. For example, the utility can bulk purchase LED lightbulbs for just $1/per bulb. There are lots of other energy saving gadgets that could be distributed to members at a big discount. What the utility could save in fuel costs could more than make up for the investment.
3. On-bill Financing
The Alaska legislature passed an on-bill financing bill last year that allows Alaska utilities to loan customers money for energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy systems by tacking on a charge to their monthly utility bill. On-bill financing is a form of lending that is catching on throughout the lower 48 as a means of incentivizing energy efficiency and point of use renewable energy. The utility loans could cover a range of upgrades including solar panels, higher efficiency appliances and switches in heating fuel systems. So far, no Alaska utility has adopted the program.
C-PACE is a program that allows local governments to serve as a middleman between business owners and private lenders to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades and pay off loans via property taxes. That loan is repaid through a line item on their assessment and the debt stays with the building, if it is sold, instead of the building owner, thereby reducing risks for property owners.
State lawmakers passed C-PACE legislation last year and the Alaska Energy Authority has been working with Kenai Peninsula, Matanuska Susitna, Fairbanks North Star, Juneau Boroughs and the Municipality of Anchorage to explore its’ adoption. To date C-PACE has not been implemented by any Alaska borough and they need your encouragement. Contact your Borough reps today and tell them to adopt C-PACE asap! We can’t wait two more years.
5. Vote and attend your utility annual meeting.
Last, but certainly not least; many Alaskans don’t realize they are member-shareholders of their electric utility. The Alaska Railbelt grid is powered by 5 member-owned utility cooperatives; Golden Valley Electric Association (Fairbanks and surrounding areas), Matanuska Electric Association (Talkeetna to Eagle River) and Chugach Electric (Anchorage to Girdwood). Every household that pays a utility bill has a VOTE and elections are underway now!
Click on your utility provider below to find out election and annual meeting dates. Use your vote and voice to tell your electric coop board members that reducing green house gas emissions is important; for your pocket-book, the planet and for the health of Cook Inlet communities, the environment and our future.
VOTE for the AKCAN! endorsed GREEN energy candidates and please help spread the word!
Want more green energy when you flip your lights on? Get involved with your local utility cooperative! Every year around February-March, members – that’s you if you pay an electric bill – elect utility co-op board of directors. Click on the links below to find out more.
Joining a local citizen’s group or Member Advisory Committee is another great way to get involved. If your co-op doesn’t have one yet, consider starting a local group!
Mat-Su Climate Watch: https://www.facebook.com/ClimateMatSu/
Golden Valley Electric Association Member Advisory Committee: https://www.gvea.com/member-advisory-cmte-mac/
Homer coming soon….!