James Campos, Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, in conjunction with the Department of Energy's Office of Indian Energy, traveled to Alaska on September 18-22 to survey energy related projects across the state, and to gain further firsthand understanding of the energy challenges of the state's remote villages.
The group toured the Huslia Tribal Council Biomass Project and observed how the heating system will provide heat to the community's clinic, washeteria, and K-12 school. Dave Messier, Rural Energy Coordinator for the Tanana Chiefs Conference and main project contact provided the tour. In Huslia, DOE officials met with Tribal Chief Carl Burgett and Tribal Finance Officer Leah David to discuss educational and technical assistance opportunities with the Department.
In Shungnak, the DOE team met with Sonny Adams, NANA Regional Corporation Director of Energy, along with city and tribal council members to discuss the path to economic development and energy sustainability in the rural villages. They witnessed firsthand how the high cost of living and fuel adds to the hardships for people throughout the region. NANA presented plans to implement alternative energy programs such as solar and bulk fuel buying to reduce fossil fuel use and energy costs.
In Kotzebue, DOE officials visited the Alaska Technical Center, a state of the art facility that conducts technical and vocational training serving all of the state. With a majority of their students coming from rural parts of Alaska, ATC is preparing locals to succeed in Alaska's high-demand fields.
Director Campos' second trip to Alaska has expanded his understanding of the energy challenges the state and its remote villages face on a daily basis. He looks forward to working on ways to best respond to these challenges.