According to the Juneau Empire, the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) and contracted consultants Black and Veatch have released the final report of the "energy roadmap" for Southeast Alaska.
The Southeast Integrated Resource Plan, created with public comment under the Legislature's direction, contains a wide range of possible ways to bring down energy costs for homes and businesses in 30 communities throughout the Panhandle.
Two of the biggest ideas floated in the plan are a power transmission intertie "backbone" that would connect the 30 communities to a supply of hydroelectricity for use as home heat as well as electricity. And another, perhaps related intertie, would connect Southeast Alaska to the power grid serving British Columbia.
Neither of the interties, according to the report, are economically feasible.
The Empire reports that Black and Veatch found hydroelectric resources "beyond the economic reach of a number of Southeast communities," according to the plan, forcing them "to walk down the path of diesel fuel dependency."
The plan includes a set of energy options suited to each sub-region, and AEA spokesperson Karen Rodvik said researchers recognized that diverse energy needs exist throughout Southeast.
"A one-size-fits-all approach would not necessarily work," Rodvik said.
Alaska Electric Light and Power spokesperson Tim McLeod said that there is no simple way to bring reliable low-cost power to all of Southeast.
The AEA and its consultants propose a two-stage energy plan for the region. Stage one would focus on advancing demand-side efficiency, and stage two would focus on hydroelectric and other renewable energy projects.