An idea studied years ago, that of producing electricity with North Slope natural gas, is gaining traction amongst Native corporations, State lawmakers and the public.
Decades ago Arco Alaska studied whether electricity produced in the North Slope could be transmitted south and sold at competitive rates. At the time the company said the project made sense financially, but there was no political support within the State as people were focused on a gas pipeline. An arctic power plant and a high voltage power line to Fairbanks and Anchorage could be build for around $4B. One consulting company suggested that electricity could be delivered from the North Slope to the Railbelt for 9.3 cents per kilowatt hour.
Commonwealth North recently published a report on the topic of rural energy costs. In Alaska today, nearly 80 percent of rural communities depend on diesel fuel for their primary energy needs. The poorest Alaskan households spend up to 47 percent of their disposable income on energy, more than five times their urban neighbors. Commonwealth North provides an educational forum where opinion leaders and activists in Alaska can gather to review public policy issues and topics affecting the state. Commonwealth North is a non-partisan organization where cultural and professional diversity is welcomed.
With the possibility of a natural gas pipeline all but gone, due to low North American gas prices, the notion of a power plant in the arctic would be one way to bring Alaska’s huge stranded natural gas reserves to market.