What Mayors Should Know About Microgrids

Alaska’s rural communities have long been self sufficient—having to deal with the challenges of extremely remote locations, a lack of roads and transportation options, and being disconnected from the grid. Out of necessity, residents and community leaders throughout the state have been forced to develop innovative solutions to these challenges. Now, climate leaders in the lower 48 are looking to Alaska for possible climate solutions.

The focus of attention by policy makers centers on Alaska’s microgrids, or local small-scale power grids. At present, efforts are underway to transition these microgrids to renewables by investing in wind and solar, aiming at generating 30% of the total supply from clean sources. The advantage of this solution is that microgrids can provide communities with power more efficiently, and with a growing push towards renewables, communities can become even more self sufficient.

A recent influx of federal dollars is contributing to the further development of microgrids in Alaska, and could help the rest of the country piggyback off the hard work of rural communities. Energy independence at the local and community level is great for residents. They provide a more secure energy supply, insulation from the national grid, and protection from regional disasters or threats.

The transition from our current national grid to community micro grids will be a long journey. Mayors and community members must lead the way, and push for local energy solutions that are good for residents, and good for climate. Find out more by joining Path to Positive Communities!

Alaska’s rural energy microgrids offer a prototype for powering the world

By Erica Martinson | Alaska Dispatch News | February 15, 2016

WASHINGTON — Alaska’s most remote villages may have a thing or two to teach the rest of the United States about keeping the lights on.

State agencies, private companies and the federal government are increasingly looking to the remote electrical “microgrids” that power rural Alaska in places where roads and long-distance electric transmission lines don’t go.

Energy experts and advocates in the state are hoping that what they’ve learned about producing power in a difficult climate could be useful — and profitable — to share, helping get the world’s remote islands and parts of sub-Saharan Africa powered. But not just remote places: Violent storms, terrorist attacks and an increasing awareness of the vulnerability of the electrical grid are causing many to doubt the wisdom of relying solely on a utility-centric model for power distribution.

That’s where Alaska comes in: If you can make it work here, it can work anywhere.

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