OPINION: Alaska's future is energy diversity

By: Cliff Grow

Updated, 16:00 minutes ago Published: 16:00 minutes ago

Energy joined education and a comprehensive fiscal plan as a key issue facing the Legislature. Southcentral Alaska is facing a looming energy shortage that will drive up costs for ratepayers, including every household, business, school and local government. These higher costs will flow out of Anchorage and into the entire state.

To address our urgent energy crisis, Governor Mike Dunleavy has approved an “all of the above” strategy. I introduced House Bill (HB) 349 to address the Governor's call to action. I am proposing this bill to help create more energy options for our state and to set the rules of the road to help investors bring more energy to Alaska.

The private sector is already developing renewable energy projects on public land. Renewables are expected to start contributing more than 120-150 megawatts of electricity to the grid by 2027. But currently, public lands leased for renewable energy projects are treated differently than for oil and gas production, creating barriers to additional energy development.

HB 349 creates a uniform policy environment for energy by providing the same statutory tools for renewable energy projects that we currently have for oil and gas development. A level playing field creates an attractive environment for private investment that will bring more producers into the market to bring more energy and lower prices to Alaskans.

The legislation will enable better use of our public lands to solve our energy crisis and potentially find new sources of revenue. HB 349 would not solve our energy crisis on its own, but with zero projected fiscal impact, this is a no-cost, big-payoff bill.

To meet this energy challenge, we need to think broadly and creatively. Resource extraction will always be in the picture, but oil and gas alone cannot save us. Alaska needs all types of energy, including oil and gas and renewables such as wind, hydro, solar, tidal, geothermal and biomass. If we can solve our energy crisis today, we can tell the world that Alaska is a good place to produce all kinds of energy.

Cliff Grow represents House District 18, which includes all of Government Hill; Most of the Elmendorf Richardson (JBER) Joint Base; and the northernmost parts of Muldoon, Downtown, Fairview, and Mountain View. First elected in 2022, he is a freshman member of the Alaska House Coalition (also called the House Minority Caucus) and a lifelong Alaskan.

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