Legislature backs its energy intentions with cash

A recent Daily News editorial said, "The Legislature has a chance to pass some good renewable energy initiatives next year." The fact is that the state Legislature has led the way in the arena of renewable energy, and unlike other states, has put money behind its words.

Last year the Legislature committed $100 million to renewable energy projects. These projects were put through a vetting process during the interim by the Alaska Energy Authority. In February the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee approved them for funding.

The funds went to some very exciting projects across the state: wind farm construction on St. George Island, three wind projects in Nome, the Lake Elva hydroelectric project, construction of the Cordova heat recovery plant, the Pillar Mountain wind farm project in Kodiak, the Bethel wind power project, the Upper Kobuk hydroelectric project, the Anchorage landfill gas electricity project, a biomass electricity/heat project in North Pole, an intertie between Coffman Cove and Naukati, the Whitman Lake hydroelectric project and a wood heating project in Tok among many others.

The Legislature is taking that leadership role -- having pledged $300 million over five years in renewable energy grants. This last legislative session another $25 million was added to the Renewable Energy Fund. Even though we limited our spending in the capital budget, renewable energy projects remain a priority.

The Legislature continues to fund energy efficiency programs through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. More than $350 million was appropriated to the Weatherization and Home Energy Rebate programs.

In short the Legislature has been working hard to do more than just talk about a vision of renewable energy production in the state.

Sen. Kevin Meyer, chairman, Legislative Budget and Audit Committee Anchorage

EDITOR'S NOTE: A longer version of this commentary appears in our online feature, Guest Columns: Web Extra, at adn.com/opinion.