Section 1. Basic Partnership Information
1) What are your goals?
The overall partnership goal is to install
500 solar systems by 2010, with the focus being on PV installations.
Because of the far northern latitudes of
Alaska, installations will not be limited to rooftop application to achieve
The partnership may consider alternative
methods of calculating the number of systems installed. It may prove more
efficient to work with the PV industry to track installed capacity in
2) What are your financial resources?
At the workshop, no significant sources of
funds to subsidize the installation of solar systems were identified. Cary
Bolling indicated that a revolving loan program was on the books, but
currently is not funded.
3) Who are your utilities?
Workshop participants indicated that there
are approximately 85 utilities in Alaska, including at least one
investor-owned utility in Juneau. A more accurate count is required.
The City of Anchorage has one municipal
utility and one rural electric cooperative.
The City of Fairbanks has one rural electric
cooperative, Golden Valley Electric Association.
4) Do you have partners representing the
5) Do you have solar industry in the state?
6) Is the coalition targeting both solar
thermal and PV?
7) Who are your advocates in the state
8) What solar system applications do you
currently have installed?
No estimates on the number of systems or
installed capacity were suggested.
Participants agreed that an inventory of
existing systems, to the extent possible, would be useful.
Essentially all of the existing applications
were thought to be stand-alone or hybrid.
9) Is there technical support available in
Yes, through the University of Alaska
Cooperative Extension Service, which offers workshops, publishes a newsletter,
responds to inquiries, and has developed a design manual.
Technical support can also be provided by
representatives of the solar industry. Marvin Kuentzel indicated that he
would be offering PV training programs through BP Solar and Xantrex in the
10) Does Alaska have uniform requirements for
interconnecting to the electric utility grid?
The Alaska Public Utilities Commission
oversees all utilities in the state, but has not yet addressed the issue of
interconnecting small PV systems to the electric utility grid.
The rural electric cooperatives can opt out
of regulatory control of the interconnection process and establish their own
Golden Valley Electric Association has
established standards and requirements for interconnection.
11) Are there licensing and/or certification
requirements for solar practitioners in Alaska?
12) Does Alaska have widespread public
information for solar?
13) Is there any solar curriculum in the
14) Does the Alaska MSRI coalition have a web
15) Who are your major state-based
corporations, and will they participate in the coalition?
(...or lack thereof)
Washington, DC. Speaking off
the record, scientists studying the current warming of the Arctic region
intimated that some officials in the Bush administration saw the loss of Arctic
ice and the resultant opening of sea channels such as the Northwest Passage of
Canada as a good thing for the exploration and retrieval of oil and natural gas
from the endangered region.
Over 300 international scientists have just
completed an extensive 1200-page report documenting their exhaustive 4-year
Arctic Climate Impact Assessment study on the rapid warming of the Arctic. The
study was commissioned by the Arctic Council and the International Arctic
Science Committee at a ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in Point
Barrow, Alaska in 2000. On November 8, the scientists released a 144-page
summary of their findings at a press conference in Washington, DC.
As if out of a scene from the Roland Emmerich's
climate disaster movie, "The Day After Tomorrow," the U.S. State Department is
criticizing the international panel's call to slow down Arctic warming by
curbing greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere. The State Department,
according to some scientists, is echoing the positions of oil companies and
anti-environmentalist pressure groups like the Cato Institute and Heritage
Foundation, in dismissing the recent report on Arctic warming. In fact,
President Bush has repeatedly referred to previous scientific studies pointing
to the effects of global warming as "silly science" based on "fuzzy math." The
chief State Department focal point on the Arctic warming issue is Paula
Dobriansky, the Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, who is seen as a
virtual mouthpiece for Vice President Dick Cheney, the oil companies, and the
anti-environmental groups. She will be trying to minimize the impact of the
Arctic warming report before she attends the November 24 meeting of the Arctic
Council in Reykjavik, Iceland where the report will be officially released.
Before her current stint at the State Department, Dobriansky was an
international affairs adviser with the law firm Hunton & Williams, whose clients
include a number of large energy companies, including Exxon Mobil.
The report concludes that Arctic warming has
increased dramatically since 1954. Average Arctic winter temperatures have
increased as much as 4 to 7 degrees F (3-4 degrees C) during the past 50 years
and are projected to increase another 7-13 degrees F (4-7 degrees C) over the
next 100 years. Over the past 30 years, the sea-ice extent of the Arctic has
decreased 386,100 square miles (or Texas and Arizona combined). Since Arctic sea
ice is declining at such a rapid rate, maritime access by oil exploration ships
and tankers is viewed by the Bush-Cheney administration and their oil industry
backers as an economic windfall because of increased access to Arctic resources.
Timber companies are also excited about access to Arctic timber reserves from
accessible Arctic seaports. Therefore, the Bush administration and their
corporate sponsors want to downplay the environmental catastrophe that will be
brought about by an anticipated complete loss of Arctic ice and the creation of
an iceless Arctic Ocean by the end of the century. Already, British Petroleum
and a Russian partner are using newly-opened shipping channels in the Russian
Arctic to begin the off-shore drilling of natural gas.
The possible opening of the Northwest Passage to
maritime shipping has already prompted Canadian warnings to the United States
not to intrude on its national territory. The United States does not recognize
Canadian sovereignty over its Arctic sea passages. This past summer, Canada's
largest warship, a fleet of helicopters, and 200 troops engaged in Operation
Narwhal, the largest Canadian military exercise ever held in the Canadian Arctic
Archipelago. Narwhal was also noteworthy in that U.S. military participants and
observers were not invited.
The Bush administration and their oil company
supporters have also dismissed concerns that oil spills resulting from increased
maritime access to Arctic waters cannot be cleaned up because no solutions have
been discovered on how to deal with oil contamination in colder waters, such as
the Arctic. They point to continued problems arising from the Exxon Valdez
disaster in Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989.
In addition to the loss of the Arctic icepack,
scientists discovered that substantial melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet will
continue and its eventual melting will raise global sea levels by about 23 feet
(7 meters). That, coupled with glacial melting in the Arctic (in Canada, Alaska,
and Russia) and Antarctic melting, will cause the sea to flood most of southern
and coastal Florida (including the Keys and the Everglades), the Mississippi
Delta (including the city of New Orleans), a number of near-sea level islands in
the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans, and the expansion of tidal-influenced
bays and rivers worldwide.
Arctic ice melt will also increase ocean salinity
and this affects ocean currents that bring warmer waters to colder regions.
Because saltier water results in colder water sinking, a decrease in salinity
will result in colder water rising to the surface and threatening the
thermohaline conveyor belt upon which Europe depends for its temperate climate
[see Dale Allen Pfeiffer's writings on abrupt climate change and the
thermohaline current in FTW, especially:
ed.]. The effect is that while temperatures increase in North America and Asia,
regional cooling will take place in Europe. The imbalance will affect
agriculture and the overall eco-system.
The loss of snow cover in the Arctic will mean
that less solar energy will be reflected back into space, thus adding to the
warming of the Arctic's land and water surfaces. Unprecedented rainfall is
already being witnessed on Greenland's Ice Sheet by the local Inuit inhabitants.
According to the Arctic warming report, the loss
of Arctic ice and permafrost will also result in the near extinction of a number
of species, including the polar bear, a number of seal species, walruses,
caribou, reindeer, lemmings, voles, and migratory birds such as snow owls. The
Indigenous People of the Arctic will be forced to relocate from floods, loss of
permafrost, coastal erosion from killer storms, building collapse from
destruction of permafrost, and loss of food supply. In addition, rising Arctic
temperatures are permitting the invasion of destructive insects such as the
spruce beetle which has already decimated 1.6 million hectares of white spruce
and Sitka/Lutz spruce on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. In Sweden, invading moths
have destroyed entire forests of birch trees. New species of birds entering the
warmer Arctic tundra regions are also bringing with them a new disease - West
Nile Virus, which threatens both humans and animals.
The Bush administration, in its unwillingness to
appreciate the impact of Arctic warming and its desire for expanded oil sources,
has incurred the wrath of the nations and peoples of the Arctic Council. These
are Canada, Denmark, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia,
Sweden, the Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich'in
Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Russian Association of
Indigenous Peoples of the North, the Saami Council along with observers France,
Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Russian President
Vladimir Putin and Queen Elizabeth have both championed the efforts to reverse
global warming as have Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman.
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