Microgrids: Powering and Preparing Alaskan Villages for Economic Growth

Jun272016

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EDA Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine Touring the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP)
EDA Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine Touring the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP)

Through Secretary Pritzker’s leadership, the Department of Commerce is executing a bold policy agenda focused on U.S. trade and investment, innovation, and data. These core areas reflect the department’s role as the voice of business and embody the attributes of a globally competitive economy. And they signal that the United States and the Department of Commerce are indeed, “open for business,” and focused on economic growth and job creation.

In addition to the trade, innovation, and data priority areas, the Department’s “Open for Business” agenda includes a critical environment pillar focused on providing communities and businesses with information, products, and services that help them prepare and prosper in a changing environment. Among our policy priorities in this space is developing the next generation of climate observing systems, developing stronger disaster resilience standards for buildings and infrastructure, and maintaining world-leader weather forecasting capabilities.

At the Economic Development Administration (EDA), we are proud of the work that we do to support local development strategies that help to drive the Secretary’s key priorities forward.

Recently, for example, I was honored to travel to Alaska where I was able to see first-hand some of the incredible work being done there to save energy and preserve the environment.

In Alaska, the cost of energy carries a hefty price tag, both economically and environmentally. For isolated, rural Alaskan villages, the economic disadvantage is doubled. Out of this challenge, Alaska has identified an innovative solution: Microgrids.

Microgrids are small-scale power grids capable of operating independently from an interconnected electrical grid and can be a primary power source in remote communities not connected to a larger power source. For isolated rural Alaskan villages, microgrids are a practical, cost-effective energy solution.

Alaska is now a global leader in the development and operation of microgrids and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) works to improve the effectiveness of microgrids for Alaska and other communities.

In early 2015, EDA awarded ACEP with an i6 grant to establish the Alaska Center for Microgrid Technologies Commercialization to provide the technical and business assistance required to accelerate commercialization and implementation of the technologies needed to improve the affordability and reliability of microgrid energy systems.

Through these initiatives, Alaska is providing the blueprint for the future of new and emerging technologies in rural communities that build on the state’s strengths and natural assets to solve environmental challenges, protect the environment, and simultaneously support businesses and grow the economy.

This is the key to powering and preparing communities for economic growth in the future.

By working together, we can evolve and solve environmental challenges together.

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Last updated: 2016-06-27 11:07

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