The Sitka Conservation Society released a report today on the Future of Energy in Sitka that calculates how much energy Sitka uses in a year, how much energy will be needed to sustain the community over the next 20 years, and how much money will be spent on oil if there is not an investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Sitka Conservation Society has worked in Sitka for 45 years to protect the natural environment of the Tongass and support the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska. This study is part of the Sitka Conservation Society's sustainable communities program which seeks to power Sitka on renewable energy, implement thorough energy efficiency actions, and reduce Sitka's carbon footprint.
Andrew Thoms, Executive Director of the Sitka Conservation Society, explains the rationale behind the study, "We did this study because we wanted to figure out how we could completely reverse our current energy mix in Sitka. Right now, Sitka runs on oil: 75% of our energy comes from non-renewable energy sources while 25% comes from renewable energy. We want to figure out if it is possible to completely reverse that within 20 years. We know that oil prices are increasing because of reduced supply and increased demand. We also know that burning fossil fuels causes climate change. There is an urgent need to shift to renewable energy."
For SCS board member Lexi Fish, the impetus to do this study is all about the future of the community. "The 20 year projection gives us an idea of what the next generation of Sitkans will be dealing with. If a child is born today in Sitka, in 20 years they will be soon considering where to start their careers and family life. Will we have enough energy to sustain our community and economy? Will we have taken continual action to prevent the destructive impacts of climate change? This project gives us an idea of where to start now, so that our future generations will have a solid ground to stand on in Sitka's community, environment and economy."
The study found that Sitka, with a population of 8,881, currently uses approximately 1,585 Billion Btus of energy per year which is the equivalent of almost 275,000 barrels of oil or 465,000 Megawatt/hours of electricity. According to Scott Brylinski, former City of Sitka Public Works Operations Manager and the principal investigator of this report, "Sitka will spend between $1B and $1.5B on oil over the next 20 years. By making investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects now, we can avoid much of those costs and keep dollars flowing within the local economy rather than leaking out of the community through purchase of oil."
Garry White, director of the Sitka Economic Development Association, and member of the Southeast Conference, adds, "Having aviable energy supply is key to economic development and overall quality of life for Sitka. The recently released Southeast Alaska Integrated Resource Management Plan provides some direction and potential paths. Sitka has the opportunity to take information from both reports and shape the direction that works best for our community and our energy future."
SCS's report sought to find solutions that took advantage of local opportunities and proven technology with successfully demonstrated commercial applications. Local business owner Gary Smith, who was interviewed in this study, comments that, "There is no silver bullet solution for meeting our energy needs. It will take multiple initiatives and technologies working together. This presents a huge opportunity for us to create local jobs and a local workforce installing and maintaining energy efficient technology like heat pumps."
"Because of the scale and scope of the issue of energy, informed public and private sector investment is needed to ensure a viable energy supply for SE Alaska communities. The State of Alaska legislature is currently working on legislation related to energy that includes oil tax structures, energy efficiency rebates and weatherization, emerging energy technology research, and renewable energy funds. As can be seen from this report, it is critical that the legislature makes the right decisions on these issues because energy is a critical element for the sustainability of Alaska communities and we know that our oil supplies are running out and we need to think beyond oil," comments Andrew Thoms.
The full report outlines a range of scenarios for Sitka's energy mix over the next twenty years and recommendations on actions that should be taken to ensure a viable energy supply.
The report can downloaded: here
To look at a timeline of the Sitka Conservation Society's work on Climate Change and Renewable Energy, click: here
The second biggest user of energy in your home is the hot water heater. Adjusting your hot water heater to the correct temperature can save a great deal of energy in your home. In this video, local contractor Marcel Laperierre shows us how to adjust the hot water heater temperature for energy savings.
Weatherization 101 is a six part series produced by the Sitka Conservation Society and the City and Borough of Sitka Electric Department to help Sitkans increase their energy awareness, conserve electricity, and save money.
Video by Andre Lewis.
In 2007, the Sitka Conservation Society began a fruitful partnership with the City of Sitka Electric Department to initiate action on climate change in Sitka and to begin taking steps to become more energy efficient. The start of the partnership was a joint position that worked in the electric department to find ways for Sitkans to save energy and reduce their energy bills. One of the many outputs of the work was a series ofeducationalbrochures for Sitkans Below is how we introduced the results of this work to Alaska Senator Bert Stedman:
December 10th, 2007
Dear Senator Stedman,
We are pleased to announce the release of our series of brochures on energy conservation inSitka. These brochures are the end result of an ongoing collaborative project with the City and Borough of Sitka to identify, evaluate, and implement energy conservation measures that reduce energy demand inSitka, reduce energy costs forSitkaresidents, and reduceSitka's environmental footprint on a local and global scale.
This project began in late 2006 when the Sitka Electric Department released a 28 year electric energy provision plan that identified an increase in demand for electricity that has the potential to outstrip total available electric supply. The high cost and potential environmental impact of new hydroelectric facilities alarmed our membership. However, a provision in the City's plan identified energy conservation as part of a solution to reducing energy demand. The Sitka Conservation Society identified this section as a potential niche where we may be able to aid the city in developing energy conservation initiatives.
To help develop the energy conservation initiatives, we applied for a grant to pay for an intern with experience in energy policy and analysis that would work at the electric department with the electric department employees to identify possible energy conservation actions. After an extensive recruiting process at top Universities across the country, Amy Heinemann was chosen from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for the internship. Part of the needs she identified during her work inSitkawas public education on energy conservation possibilities and specific choices the energy consumer can make that will achieve results. These brochures were the results of some of her work.
This project is part of a continuing effort by the Sitka Conservation Society to offer "solutions" to the community that not only benefit our surrounding natural environment but also provide tangible and needed benefits to our community.
Please let us know if you would like more information on this work or any of our other initiatives or if you would like more copies of the brochures.
Download the brochures below:Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Green Girls Grow is an event that toured three communities in Southeast Alaska to bring Girl Scouts a new way to look at renewable energy and conservation. Bitty Balducci, SCS AmeriCorps member, and Melissa Edwards, Girl Scout Southern Tongass Membership and Program Specialist, developed the energy-themed curriculum and made plans to tour Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Sitka in early March. The event reached over 75 girls in the three communities and gave them a look at renewable energy in Southeast as well as fundamental concepts of conservation.
The event ran two days in each community: the first for Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts, the second for Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts. The activities on each day reflected the different badges and awards offered through the Forever Green campaign promoted by Girl Scouts as a long-term effort to increase energy efficiency awareness and encourage conservation in the community. The girls learned about the effects of fossil fuels on the environment, wind energy, hydroelectricity, solar power energy, and more through hands-on activities that modeled each type of renewable energy!
Ketchikan and Sitka had the privilege of hosting experts in energy efficiency for the event in their communities Gregory Fast, an engineer from Ketchikan Public Utility, showed the girls how much energy a household could save by switching to energy efficient lighting. An incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulb were connected to a meter reader and the girls observed as the dials spun much more rapidly with the incandescent, thus, using a significant amount more energy to power. University of Alaska Southeast Assistant Professor of Construction, Greg Reynolds, made a model specifically for this event to demonstrate conduction and convection in the home.He showed the girls how inadequate insulation can cause mildew, and eventually molding in walls of homes and the weatherization updates necessary to stop the cycle.
Green Girls Grow received praise from each of the hosted communities from parents, troop leaders, scouts, and professionals in the community. In fact, the event was so successful that future plans to integrate energy education into Girl Scout events across Southeast are underway. Melissa Edwards views the event as a "huge achievement towards the mission of Forever Green" and "hopes to continue the partnership between the Sitka Conservation Society and Girl Scouts of Southeast."
Last Friday, Girl Scout troop #4140 continued the Innovate Award for the Get Moving Energy Journey. As part of the journey, the girls went on an energy tour of their school, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary. Sitka School District Maintenance Supervisor, Bill Steinbaugh, volunteered to lead the girls on the tour in order to help them better understand the energy in the building they use almost 40 hours every week. He showed the scouts the backup diesel supply, the boiler room, the various air ducts throughout the school, the attic and contributed his expertise of the energy system in each location.
This detailed tour gave the girls an in-depth look at the school's energy systems and procedures. Some questions the girls asked include what kind of heating system is used, its efficiency, and any weatherization updates made to the building since it was erected in 1989. The scouts were surprised to learn that no notable weatherization improvements have been made since it was built over 20 years ago. Another shock came when the troop learned that the school spends an average of $4,600 a month on utilities during the school year!
The next step for troop #4140 is to submit the information they gained from the tour to an online database where they can compare their school's efficiency to other schools in the region as well as throughout the country. After reviewing the information they found and discussing what they experienced, they will propose various weatherization improvement options to the school board to make the building more energy efficient. Through their work, the troop hopes to encourage the Sitka School District to think of long-term energy efficiency since 5 of the top 25 top electric users in 2010 were school buildings.
As Junior Girl Scout Troop 4140 continues to press on with the Get Moving Energy Journey, the scouts learn the value of good insulation in homes and buildings. The troop had the opportunity to see four different types of common insulation and test their knowledge of R Value. The results surprised the girls as they learned appearance does not always reveal which insulation will be most energy efficient.
After examining insulation in buildings, they focused on every day types of insulation such as wool, aluminum foil, cotton, and plastic. Following their predictions on which material would be the most energy efficient, the scouts took turns taking the temperature of the water inside the experiment jars. As most scouts predicted, the wool worked best followed by the aluminum foil - it turns out these girls can't be fooled by appearances anymore.
The skills the girls learned in this activity are just a fractional of the material in the overall journey that will teach them how to live more energy efficient lives. This Friday, troop 4140 will go on a tour of their school, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary, led by a member of the maintenance staff to learn the ins and outs of the energy in the building. Proceeding the tour, the girls will make a list of recommendations to the school board regarding potential upgrades that could make the school more energy efficient based on the things they have learned during the journey.
Months have passed withhydroelectric shortageand the City of Sitka Electric Department has warned the community that the risk of having to use supplemental diesel fuel to run the town's functions is high. In order to let this message sink in a bit further, Utility Director, Christopher Brewton, made this graphic meant to encourage electric users to switch to oil by using a visual that most people can relate to.
This simple graphic shows electric users that using an oil heater is over 2X as efficient as gaining electricity through the extremely inefficient diesel generators.Brewton hoped to encourage those with duel heating systems to switch since the diesel surcharge will add to every electric user's monthly bill.
The City and Borough of Sitka partnered with the Sitka Conservation Society in yet another attempt to encourage electric users to decrease their electric consumption. The pair collaborated to develop a rebate program that will allow hundreds of local residents to upgrade old appliances to new Energy Star appliances.
The Energy Star Rebate Program currently has $100,000 in funding from the City Electric Department and will allow Sitka electric users to qualify for a rebate after upgrading to one of the five Energy Star appliances identified as the primary energy-suckers in the home. The appliances covered under the rebate program include refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, hot water heaters, and ground or air-source heat pumps. The rebates are designed to give maximum value to the customer and incentives to upgrade by offering up to $1,500 towards an Energy Star air or ground-source heat pumps. The application process involves simply acquiring a rebate form available at the Electric Department or online, filling out the basic product information, disposal of the old appliance, and returning the form with proof of disposal and purchase to the Electric Department. City employees will process and verify your request for a rebate and will send a check to the mailing address no more than 60 days after it's submission.
Although the Assembly passed the ordinance to start this program after the second reading on January 24, 2012, the program will officially be open to the public in late February.
For more information on the Energy Star Rebate Program visit: http://cityofsitka.com/government/departments/electric/index.html
In 2011, Sitka's hydroelectric capacity was at the lowest in the last 30 years. The combination of a lower supply due to less rain and a high demand for electric heating forced the City and Borough of Sitka to use hundreds of thousands of gallons for diesel fuel last year alone to supplement the town's electric need.
On January 17, 2012 electric customers pushed our hydroelectricity to the max, setting a new peak load record for the town. At 6:00pm electric customers used 24MW of electricity to set a new hydroelectric record for Sitka. According to the Electric Department, 'this is 5 MW, or 26% greater, than the 19 MW electrical peak hit in 2005."
Although recent increased rainfall decreases the likelihood that hydroelectricity will run out before spring weather melts the snows, the City Utility Director, Chris Brewton, still encourages residents to conserve electric energy.
Home weatherization and upgrading appliances are examples of ways to make big changes in your home's overall energy efficiency. However, there are many free ways to conserve electricity for those who want to do their part to reduce Sitka's dependance on the backup diesel generators, but don't have the money for home weatherization.
Take Action: 10 Free Ways to Save ElectricityTip 1: Air dry your dishes instead of using the drying cycle of your washing machine. If you do a load of dishes before bed, they will be dry in the morning.
Tip 2: Turn off your monitor computer when not in use. Desktop computers use significantly more energy than laptops. However, you can reduce your desktop's electric load by simply pressing a button after each use.
Tip 3: Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater and dishwasher to 120 degrees F. At this temperature, you water is still hot and your dishes clean, yet you cut down each appliance's electric consumption.
Tip 4: Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months. This simple act removes sediment that impedes heat transfer and increases overall efficiency. In fact, this can increase your water heater's efficiency by 30%!
Tip 5: Wash your clothes on the cold/cold cycle of your washing machine. Enjoy clean clothes and know that you saved over 90% of the energy you normally use since heating the water accounts for most of energy expended to wash clothes.
Tip 6: Set your refrigerator to 37-40 degrees F and your freezer to 5 degrees F (0 degrees F for long-term storage). Appliances like refrigerators run constantly and suck up energy throughout the day. Therefore, if you raise the overall temperature by just a few degrees your refrigerator will use less energy while still keeping your food fresh.
Tip 7: Remove lint from your dryer filter after each use. A fresh filter for each load will improve air circulation to make your clothes dry faster and increase your dryer's overall efficiency.
Tip 8: Use toaster ovens to bake smaller meals instead of using your stove/oven. Toaster ovens heat up more quickly and require less energy to bake small meals.
Tip 9: Keep window shades on the south side of your house open. Natural heat and light will decrease your heating system's workload. This is especially valuable since home heating is the #1 contributor to your monthly energy bill.
Tip 10: Turn off your kitchen and bath fans within 20 minutes after use. This window allows ample time to ventilate the room but does not waste unneeded energy.
Small changes to a drafty or poorly insulated house can result in a significant drop in winter heating for a Sitka homeowner, not mention reduce the burden on the hydroelectric demand which is currently running at capacity. With this in mind, the Sitka Conservation Society and the Southeast Alaska Career Center partnered to bring residents five days of weatherization workshops led by Jim Ward, Board President, from the Alaska Craftsman Home Program in November 2011.
The first three days of workshops were geared towards construction trade professionals. Topics included Building Energy Efficiency Standards and Advanced Cold Climate Building. Each participant attended full day classes and had the opportunity to update or attain the Residential Endorsement Certificate. The professional workshops also offered partial education requirements for state licensing. Of the participants who took the exam, 100 percent passed.
Following the workshops for professionals, ACHP offered shorter do-it-yourself weatherization workshops geared for homeowners. Topics in these eight workshops included energy efficient insulation, windows and doors, ventilation, and lighting and appliances. Participants were able to pick two hour sessions with a licensed professional.
Over 175 participants ranging from homeowners to local contractors, to home auditors, city staff and more attended the workshops. The workshop facilitator was impressed by the turnout and arranged to return to Sitka with more weatherization workshops in 2012. The set days for the workshops are March 3-7. Information on specific session information and times will be updated in the future.