From the Editor

I’m probably biased, but it’s my experience that Alaskans have very grounded conversations about energy. We won’t dive into a new energy technology unless we check the temperature of the pool or the chlorine content in the water—and, wait, is something living in there? We know that any transition from one energy source to another requires engineering services, construction labor and materials, transportation solutions, maintenance training, funding (probably from more than one source), community buy-in, and the understanding that a change in energy generation may bring a change—positive or negative—in jobs or economic activity. None of Alaska’s rural communities are pursuing solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass, or wind power systems because they’re trendy. They have multiple goals to address, including the reliability of the energy source, the cost to the community, and how energy generation affects their people and their environment.

That thinking isn’t restricted to rural communities. Along the Railbelt, Alaskans are looking at all energy options to find what works best and when. All energy sources have pros and cons, and what Alaskans find in urban and Bush communities is that the best solution often is a combination of hydrocarbons and renewable energy sources.

This idea is exemplified by the Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference, taking place at the end of this month. The sponsor list for the conference includes many of the state’s energy utilities, agencies, and producers—including Usibelli Coal Mine, Hilcorp Alaska, the Alaska Oil & Gas Association, and the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation. Alaska’s oil, gas, and coal providers are investing in conversations about a sustainable future—as they should. Natural resource extractors are and should be held to high social and environmental safety standards. And since Alaska’s energy future includes hydrocarbons, even as it adopts other energy sources, those companies’ involvement in conversations about that future is critical.

May has historically been our oil and gas issue, but it’s evolving into an energy issue, which I find exciting. Alaska was built on energy and continues to be an energy testing ground and innovator. With potential geothermal and micronuclear projects on the horizon, Alaska is dipping its feet into every energy pool, testing the waters and exploring the potential of their depths. We’re highly qualified to do it.

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Tasha Anderson
Managing Editor, Alaska Business