Alaska Trends


early fifty years ago, the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) was established as an independent public corporation, tasked by the state government with supporting the development of energy projects. AEA gained a new tool in 2008, when the Alaska legislature created the Renewable Energy Fund (REF) and the associated Renewable Energy Grant Recommendation Program.

A temporary program at first, REF’s five-year sunset date was extended in 2012 and then, last year, repealed entirely, cementing the program as a permanent component of Alaska’s energy infrastructure toolkit.

With its future now boundless, AEA looked back on REF’s past. The authority commissioned BW Research Partnership to examine the program’s economic, community, and environmental impacts. Some of those results are discussed in this month’s article “Energizing Renewables” by Dimitra Lavrakas, along with other public financing that helps Alaskans plug into solar power or other sustainable sources.

BW Research calculated the economic impacts of REF investments. The report concludes that twelve jobs were created and $217,375 in net energy costs were avoided per million dollars invested by the REF program. Most grants, according to the report, paid for new infrastructure: 60 percent went toward that purpose, whereas approximately 11 percent were for retrofits and 24 percent were for feasibility assessment of a project that ultimately was not built.

This edition of Alaska Trends illustrates some of the report’s other findings. The study is important to gauge whether REF is doing its job, even as the legislature appropriated $17 million last year to pay for eighteen more AEA-recommended projects.

Source: Alaska Renewable Energy Fund: Impact and Evaluation Report 2023
REF Technologies Funded infographic pie chart diagram
REF Jobs Created, by Industry infographic pie chart diagram
Illustration of mountains and windmills with the text Wind Projects accounted for the second highest share of diesel gallons displaced trhough 2022. 15 million cumulative and 1.3 thousand annual.
Illustration of hydro plant with text Hydro projects have the largest share of annual diesel gallons displaced with 70% from 2014 to 2022.
Illustration of factory with the text Emissions and pollutants 1 million tonnes of CO2 were mitigated cumulatively through 2022. Up to $43 million in avoided costs associeate d with Pm 2.5 pollutant reduction.
Illustration of homes and trees with text Funds invested in the REF program resulted in $2.1 million in benefits returned to residents and the economy. 2,931 new jobs, $237 million in labor income, $399 million in value added