By MERRILEE GASSER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Gov. Mike Dunleavy is continuing his push for sustainable energy options at a conference underway this week.
Some well-known names are among the 90 speakers at the first Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference, including former secretary of state and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, former Energy Secretary and Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.
One of Gov. Dunleavy’s initiatives is microreactors. He signed Senate Bill 177 this week, which will exempt microreactors from the requirement to be situated on legislatively designated lands. It also exempts microreactors from having state departments and agencies conduct studies concerning changes in laws and regulations.
The governor said the bill is meant to “smooth the regulatory process for the siting of micronuclear reactors.”
There are not currently any microreactors in Alaska, and it is estimated that it will take five to seven years before that changes, according to the bill’s fiscal note. Microreactors can operate as a part of, or independently from, the electric grid. One microreactor can generate 1 to 10 megawatts of electricity.
Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, said microreactors are promising, “but we are not there yet,” in a February interview with The Center Square.
I am a little concerned that we’re not ready for the governor’s bill yet to take off all the Alaska rules (about microreactors),” Sen. Kiehl said. “We don’t actually know what this thing might look like.”
Two microreactor projects are being planned in the state, Gov. Dunleavy said. One would be located at Eielson Air Force Base and could be completed by 2027, according to the Air Force Times. The other is under consideration by the Cooper Valley Electric Association and would be located in Valdez.
During this week’s conference, speakers will also touch on issues to lower energy costs in Alaska and make the state energy independent.
“This isn’t about an either, or, this is about an all-in approach on energy sources,” Gov. Dunleavy said in a statement. “We’re talking about various types of energy, everything from nuclear, tidal, wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, and hydrogen will be a part of robust conversations and panels here at the conference. As well as natural gas as a bridge to get there.”
Electric and autonomous vehicles, commercialization of hydrogen fuels, and similar technological efforts and other changes have brought humans to a new era, Gov. Dunleavy said on the conference’s website.
“The world we leave our children and grandchildren will be unrecognizable from the one we entered,” Gov. Dunleavy wrote.