The northwest village of Buckland has put three new solar arrays online in pursuit of lower utility costs. Buckland, like the majority of rural Alaska, has depended on diesel for much of its electricity generation. While that will likely continue to be the case, a battery system planned for next year coupled with an existing wind turbine installation will expand the role of renewables in the community.
The project was supported by the US Department of Energy as well as Northwest Alaska Native Association. Buckland is on its own energy grid, making integration of renewables especially straightforward. Much of the cost was covered through grants.
The equipment was purchased from a California company, BoxPower, which sells complete solar power stations that fit inside shipping containers. Residents are hopeful that these arrays will lower their cost of living as well as curb worries about future price spikes of diesel and heating fuel. The high cost of energy has many remote communities considering renewables and their interest translates to a bright future for renewable energy in Alaska, even as state and federal funding wanes.