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Energy for All Alaska: a great place to learn about energy

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner community perspective:

A gigantic part of our economy and livelihood rests on the health and continued activity of energy companies and projects. Because of this, Interior residents need straight from the source, current information from local resource companies, utilities and state project teams.

So where do you get your source material on topics like the Alaska liquefied natural gas project or the Interior Gas Utility? Look no further than Energy for All Alaska. Energy for All Alaska, hosted by Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation, is a weekly program that gives community members a forum to discuss statewide and Interior-specific topics with the people and businesses affecting change on energy topics.

Historically, Energy for All Alaska operated as a task force to address the cost increase and availability of energy in Alaska. The task force was united that reduction and stabilization of energy costs was the only way to diversify Alaska’s economy beyond federal spending and oil dependence. These efforts evolved into the Interior Energy Project. The stewardship for the Interior Energy Project began with the Energy for All Alaska Task Force, moved to the state, and now sits with the Interior Gas Utility Board.

Since advancing the Interior Energy Project to a board of its own, the Energy for All Alaska program has broadened its scope and now covers a wide range of topics affecting the energy environment of the Interior.

What does Energy for All Alaska look like today? At 8 a.m. each Tuesday in the FEDC conference room, an expert presents on the week’s topic and answers questions from those attending. Energy for All Alaska is unique from other programs offered in town in three ways.

First, accessibility. Our programs are centrally located downtown, free and open to the public. Are you a professor looking for current-event extra credit opportunities for your students? Are you a local business owner looking for face time with entities planning energy-related projects? Are you looking to stay up-to-date on energy issues affecting the Interior? 

Second, the format. Our energy presentations are interactive and offer an engaging, diverse question-and-answer opportunity for participants to engage directly with speakers. Having public officials, construction industry leaders, entrepreneurs and local business owners sit at the table allows for holistic conversations that cannot be replicated in other meeting formats.

Third, the atmosphere. The intimate conference-room setting lends itself to in-depth, meaningful discussions. Here is an example of an Energy for All Alaska program that is affecting opportunities in our region: In November, Kevin Blanchard, from Eielson Air Force Base, presented on the status of the F-35A expansion at Eielson. This might not sound like an energy-related topic, but a major conversation followed the presentation about the procurement timetable and logistics of a steam-water utility duct extension, which would be federally funded. Conversations such as these allow Fairbanks-based businesses to be in-the-know on the expansion of an energy source for a major economic driver such as the military, in the Interior. Guests during the past year have included:

• Golden Valley Electric Association chief executive Cory Borgeson;

• Arctic subsea fiber optic cable system by Quintillion’s Kristina Woolston; 

• In-state gasline update by Nick Szymoniak, of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. 

These opportunities often help prepare both the speaker and those attending to engage in a broader public dialogue, or take a timely action. Topics in the next several weeks will include:

• Interior Gas Utility with General Manager Jomo Stewart

• Air quality nonattainment 101 by Nicholas Czarnecki, Fairbanks North Star Borough Air Quality Division

• Hilcorp in Alaska’s North Slope operations manager, Bo York

 Coffee is provided. Energy for All Alaska meetings are from 8 - 9:15 a.m. Tuesdays at the FEDC office, 330 Wendell Ave., Suite E. Visit our events page for an up-to-date view of our scheduled speakers at Investfairbanks.com/about/events/calendar. Contact Hannah Cooper at hcooper@investfairbanks.com with questions or to be added to our distribution list.

Hannah Cooper is a project manager at the Fairbanks Economic Development Corp.

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