Rural Alaska

Alaska Native communities get federal grants to reduce energy costs

JUNEAU - More than 13 Indigenous communities, including seven in Alaska, will split $12 million for energy cost reduction efforts, officials announced.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced the grants during a teleconference Tuesday. Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Keolani Booth, a Metlakatla Indian Community Tribal Council member, also participated in the event.

They said the grant funds would help American Indian and Alaska Native communities reduce costs and move toward more sustainable energy production, the Juneau Empire reported.

“We want to thank the federal government for its investment into our community,” Booth said. “This opens up many new options.”

Metlakatla will use its grant of more than $1 million to complete an electrical intertie project to Ketchikan that is expected to lower prices.

Booth, in a prepared statement, said the project has been in the works for about 20 years and is becoming a reality because of the assistance of state and federal politicians.

Other Alaska communities receiving grants are the Akiachak Native Community; the Native Village of Kipnuk; the Native Village of Diomede; the Native Village of Noatak and the Northwest Arctic Borough; the Village of Aniak and the Village of Chefornak.

American Indian communities in California, Florida, Washington and Colorado were also awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy Policy.

Projects were selected by a committee and based on scoring criteria, said Wahleah Johns, senior adviser for the Indian Energy Policy office. Local communities are paying for some costs but the majority of the funding is coming from the grants.

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