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Click here to see our latest May 2013 newsletter.
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April 2013 -SWAMC has contracted with the Alaska Energy Authority to develop regional energy plans for the Bristol Bay and Aleutian/Pribilof regions. (A contract to assist the Kodiak region could be forthcoming.) At the energy workshop in conjunction with our Annual Economic Summit in February, we highlighted the regional energy planning process and broke out into the three sub-regions to go more in-depth on the philosophy and outcomes of the unique plans. So far, the Bristol Bay and A/P plans are taking shape in their own respective ways.
The goal of the plans are to provide recommendations for activities and actions to help reduce the long-term cost of power and energy, reduce a dependence on fossil fuels, and improve the current energy systems in the regions. Each planning effort will include regional stakeholders, evaluate alternatives and provide a prioritized action plan of projects. As we go further along we will rely on SWAMC communities and members to be part of the stakeholder process.
Bristol Bay has different energy needs and opportunities than the Aleutians. The Bay has several close and clustered communities which could present opportunities for transmission interties, while the Aleutian region is comprised of more isolated communities that require localized planning. And while the A/P region has a world-class wind regime, hydro-friendly topography and several geothermal hot spots, the Bristol Bay region has a different geologic composition with less severe winds, but potential opportunities for solar and biomass energy. Additionally, Kodiak will have its own unique set of challenges and opportunities, as we will discover once that planning process gets underway. In short, each regional plan will have its own identity, but the core planning outcomes are all identical: to find ways to reduce the long-term cost of power and energy to Southwest Alaskans. We hope you will join us as we proceed through the planning phases.
SWAMC's 2013 Economic Summit & Annual Membership Meeting took place near the end of February, and by all accounts the meeting was a success! (click here for the agenda) The conference feedback we received has been overwhelmingly positive, with 97% of respondents reporting that content was valuable and every subject matter received strong overall support. A noteworthy finding from attendees' feedback was that the most important or interesting topic was Energy, taking 67% of all votes; followed by New Development Opportunities, Infrastructure and Fisheries. However, on closer analysis, Fisheries may retain the popular vote, after including importance of Interactive Workshops, which focused on fisheries issues.
Attendees reported the most important thing about SWAMC is our ability to speak with a regional voice, and network between stakeholders; these collaborative efforts, and investigation of valuable topics is only made possible with the contribution of engaged SWAMC Members. You can take a look at the membership resolutions passed here.
Membership also elected to the Board of Directors a few new members and re-elected a few familiar faces on Friday. Louise Stutes (Kodiak Island - Municipal), Paul Gronholdt (Aleutians/Pribilofs - Associate), and Joe Sullivan (Associate A - At-large) were all re-elected to their seats. Joining the SWAMC Board for their first term are: Michelle Ravenmoon (Bristol Bay – Municipal), from the village of Pope-Vannoy in the Lake & Peninsula Borough; Dan Clarion (Kodiak Island – Municipal), from the City of Ouzinkie; and Dan O'Hara (Bristol Bay – Municipal), from the Bristol Bay Borough. Rounding out the 2013 Board is Alice Ruby, Layton Lockett, Glen Gardner, Shirley Marquardt and Trevor Brown. Louise Stutes was elected President, Alice Ruby of Dillingham is Vice President, and Layton Lockett was tapped for Treasurer.
December 2012 - Regional Applications for a Digital Economy (RADE) is the product of an effort over the latter half of 2012 to explore new opportunities made available by broadband, while also seeking ways to boost access in underserved markets of SW Alaska. The report is full of findings and recommendations for policy and strategy to promote broadband deployment and application development in Southwest Alaska. The document was grounded in research and analysis, but also drew on the experiences and guidance of a Broadband Focus Group made up of a cross-section of folks working in various sectors of SW Alaska, from education to business to government services. Their perspectives on broadband needs, challenges, and opportunities in Rural Alaska informed much of the project work. The report will be used as a guiding document by SWAMC as we continuously seek ways to broaden broadband access and adoption in the region.
December 2012 - What a year it was in 2012! We focused a lot of building community capacity, our regional energy challenges, strengthening our Southwest fisheries, enhancing our educational opportunities, and maintaining our strategic partnerships, all in the name of regional economic development. If you don't believe us, check out this Word Cloud, where we dumped all the text from our 15 newsletters this year into a hopper, and it produced our biggest themes of the year as a 'cloud'. The bigger the word, the more frequent it appeared in our articles. Have a look at some of our major priorities on the year, and look out for your community in the 2013 cloud!
October 2012 - SWAMC Board members and other partners recently toured the Kenai LNG Plant owned and operated by ConocoPhillips Alaska. A day after our SWAMC Board retreat, a few of our Directors, staff, regional leaders, Rep. Herron, and an energy consultant traveled down to Nikiski to get a lesson in LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) from the facility manager. We received an education about the cooling (liquefaction) and regasification (vaporization) processes, shipping, safety, export values, and many applications of LNG. However, the group was mainly there to learn about the feasibility of using North Slope gas for in-state purposes, primarily in Western and coastal Alaska. What are the on-shore infrastructure needs to make this feasible? What sort of LNG vessels are best suited for Alaska's coast and watersheds? Would a big pipeline or a spur-line provide the right economics for bringing gas to more Alaskans? Is LNG or CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) a more suitable option for Rural Alaska? These and a host of other questions are worth investigating as we look to find solutions to Alaska's energy problems. If you're near the Kenai Peninsula we encourage folks to take this tour to learn more about the processes of transporting and distributing LNG, and to dig into the economic complexities of All Alaska Gas.
October 2012 - SWAMC and the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), another state ARDOR, recently toured the Kodiak Launch Complex (KLC) with a national site selection company to explore the possibilities of adding value to the burgeoning aerospace industry in Alaska. KLC is owned and operated by the Alaska Aerospace Corporation and is located on Kodiak Island about 44 miles south of the City of Kodiak. The tour included a representative working for Lockheed Martin, a regular customer of KLC looking to develop a supplier industry in Alaska, possibly in Anchorage or more closely located to the launch facility itself, in Kodiak. There are many positive economic effects of such an expansion, particularly related to workforce, and could help diversify a local economy in the Southwest region. SWAMC, AEDC, and Lockheed will continue to explore supplier opportunities in Alaska's aerospace industry and work with interested companies.
October 2012 - The aggregate salmon returns to the SWAMC region fall within the long-run average range; however on closer analysis, variation in individual systems dictate one's perception of a strong or weak season. As a region, the world's largest wild sockeye fishery in Bristol Bay missed the forecast by a respectable 7%, returning 29 million salmon. All districts made escapement goals, preserving future sustainability, although in general, escapements were on the lower bounds of the escapement range. The 20.5M harvest falls short of the 25.3M 20 year average; Egegik and Nushagak were only about 50% of average. The Naknek-Kvichak systems carried the region, beating forecasts and long term average harvest, with a catch of 9.99M. Nushagak was the only district to substantially miss forecast, coming up 60% short. Arguably, missing forecast can affect fishermen more than the forecast itself, as the expectations drive morale - for good and bad. Read More