Daily Sitka Sentinel

Chamber Updated on Renewable Energy

The Sitka Conservation Society released a report Wednesday that indicates Sitka could save upwards of $350  million over the next 20 years by using more renewable energy.

Scott Brylinski, who completed a report called “Sitka’s Energy Future” for SCS, told the weekly Chamber of Commerce luncheon that Sitka currently runs on 25 percent renewable energy and 75 percent nonrenewable energy. The total energy usage includes the gas and diesel used to run cars and boats, heating sources and electricity for homes and businesses. The renewable energy is represented primarily by Sitka’s hydroelectric generation.

If this ratio could be flipped over the next 20 years, with Sitka using 75 percent renewable energy and 25 percent nonrenewable about $357 million will stay in the community, Brylinski said.

The idea is that money for gas and oil leaves Sitka and reducing the local reliance on those nonrenewable energy sources will keep money here.

The study assumed that the population in Sitka will remain steady over the next 20 years. And SCS looked at energy technologies that are commercially viable in Sitka at this time.

Brylinski said that if current energy uses remain the same, even with the Blue Lake expansion, Sitkans will spend about $957 million over the next 20 years on nonrenewable energy.

That number would drop to about $600 million if Sitka could get to the point where 75 percent of the town’s energy use is renewable.

Brylinski discussed two possible ways tot reach the renewable energy goal. If Blue Lake is expanded and a new hydroelectric plant is built at Takatz Lake, Sitka could increase its renewable energy usage to 55 percent over 20 years. Add 20 percent for biomass fuels and Sitka could derive 75 percent of its energy from renewable sources, Brylinski said.

And without Takatz, Sitka could hit the 75 percent mark by increasing energy efficiency by 1 percent a year and cutting energy usage by 1 percent a year. That scenario also assumes the use of biomass heating sources. Brylinski called these conservation and efficiency targets
difficult, but not outlandish.”

Thoms said the goal of the study was to encourage city leaders and Sitka residents to take a long view of the town’s energy needs and invest money now in renewable energy sources.

Girls Scouts from troop 4140 were at the Chamber luncheon Wednesday. The troop has been learning about energy efficiency and recently produced a video showing residents how to fix cracks in their home with caulk. 

The full energy report is available on the SCS website at sitkawild.org.

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