In Tuesday’s KDM was an article entitled “National Solar Testing Site Being Launched in Vermont.” Relevant points were that this new research facility has major support (e.g., Sandia Laboratories, IBM, DoE, etc.) and the focus of this facility is on cold weather environments (similar to Alaska’s). The article also noted that Germany, today’s leader in solar energy, has a climate similar to that of Alaska.

As I am enrolled in a construction management class at our community college this semester, the above article was relevant and got me thinking (painful as it was).

Here on Kodiak, residential energy usage is costly, and likely these same household energy dollars could be used elsewhere were one to decrease his energy usage while maintaining or bettering his standard of living. (For example, I just get tired of LED streetlights that, although cost-effective, don’t do the job, fluorescent lights that interfere with my computer screen, turning one’s house into a refrigerator by turning down the thermostat, etc.)

But where in Kodiak can one go and, at no cost, sit down with an unbiased, knowledgeable individual and discuss measurable, low-cost ways of reducing individual residential energy costs at minimal up-front costs, understanding energy credits that are available, loans that can be forgiven, vendors, etc: in short, the whole package? As far as I can tell, right now nothing like this is available on Kodiak.

Since we do have a college on-island, it would seem to me logical to begin here. For example, what would it take for Kodiak Electric Association to grow into Kodiak Energy Association and sponsor a chair (faculty position) at Kodiak College with the job description (in part) that this individual conducts local research as well as oversees a walk-in, energy-savings laboratory where residents could come, view products, and discuss possible ideas for saving energy at their Kodiak homes? Assuming a sponsorship for such a chair to be $120,000 (including benefits) and with 4,046 KEA members, would result in an annual cost of $2.47/month per member to sponsor such a chair. Probably too much though, eh?

Jeff Stewart

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