Alaska is THE state for solar activity… if you’re talking about the Aurora Borealis (the northern lights). The wild, dancing colors in the night sky are the result of the sun’s molten flyaways being absorbed into our atmosphere before reaching Earth.
But – it’s THE WORST state in the country for solar energy policy and solar industry growth. In fact, it’s so bad that The Solar Foundation ranked it 51 in its solar jobs census, which included Puerto Rico.
Fewer than 150 homes in the state have installed solar.
There are a few good reasons the state might not have embraced solar energy. There’s plenty of sun in the summer when it shines all day and most of the night. But in the winter, it’s never fully risen. On top of stubby winter days, Alaska has tremendous natural resources.
Alaska is one of the nation’s top coal and natural gas producers. And it is the country’s second largest oil producer. Alaska accounts for one fifth of the United States’ oil production. Prudhoe Bay, the country’s largest oil well, is responsible for 8 percent of the nation’s petroleum.
All those resources result in some pretty cheap grid power. Ranking third in the country for affordable electricity combined with a complete lack of local financial incentives makes going solar in Alaska pretty expensive. There’s no third-party ownership model in the state and very limited net metering opportunities.
Despite all those factors, some people are still installing solar in Alaska. It’s a state where off-grid solutions are welcome for many. With plenty of remote, hard-to-reach areas, Alaska could still shin in the solar arena once energy storage advances.
Property Tax Incentive
State Grant Program
State Loan Program
State Rebate Program
Utility Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Building Energy Code
Solar/Wind Access Policy
Related Programs & Initiatives
Alternative Fuels Data Center
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) provides information, data and tools to help fleets and other transportation decision-makers find ways to reduce petroleum consumption through the use of alternative and renewable fuels, advanced vehicles, and other fuel-saving measures.
Green Power Network
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
Weatherization Assistance Program
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
Wind Powering America
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.
|Program Type||State Loan Program|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics,Solar Hot Water Heating, Solar Space Heat, Solar Thermal Electric, Wind Energy, Municipal Solid Waste|
|Amount||Varies per project|
|Required Documentation||Completed program application|
|Official Web Site||http://akenergyauthority.org/programsloan.html|
This incentive is no longer available
|Program Type||State Grant Program|
|Technologies||Just about any renewable energy system you can imagine will qualify for this grant|
|Amount||Varies foe each technology and system|
|Required Documentation||Completed application|
|Official Web Site||http://www.akenergyauthority.org/|
The Alaska State Legislature approved grant funding for renewable energy projects in 2008. The fund is overseen by the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA), which makes approval recommendations to the legislature twice a year.
HB 250, which passed in 2012, dedicated $50 million a year to renewable energy projects through 2023. Local governments, tribal bodies and organizations can make recommendations for the grant funding, but the legislature gets the final say in where the money goes. Projects with matching funds are typically favored.
|Program Type||Performance-based Incentive|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Hot Water Heating, Wind energy, Small Hydroelectric|
|Amount||Avoided cost of power|
|Required Documentation||Completed Golden Valley Electric application|
|Official Web Site||http://www.gvea.com/resources/snap|
Alaska’s Sustainable Natural Alternative Power (SNAP) program started in 2005 and now had 75 members as of mid 2014. Together, they have 1.5 megawatts of solar capacity.
The SNAP program is a way for clean energy advocates to contribute. SNAP supporters pay a minimum of $2 per month to encourage others to install solar.
When home or business owners install solar, the supporters payments offset the utility’s cost, it says. Those who install solar pay the retail rate for power they buy, but are reimbursed at the avoided cost rate for excess power they put onto the grid.
When the program started, it paid a premium to SNAP generators. Growth has slowed in recent years as those who install solar have to shoulder all of the upfront cost and are compensated less than the retail electric rate for the excess power they generate.