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More than 21 representatives of state and regional organizations participated in an the initial facilitation workshop for Alaska Energy Ambassadors. Photo by Jared Temanson, NREL

In Alaska, many Native villages and regional corporations are pursuing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects as part of their long-term strategies for lowering energy costs and increasing energy security. In doing so, they will join the growing ranks of islands, disaster-stricken cities, and other communities that have implemented leading-edge solutions to pressing energy and environmental challenges. In nearly every case, stakeholders in these efforts point to the critical importance of having an energy “ambassador” to champion the project, garner community buy-in, and facilitate its success.

A pilot Energy Ambassadors Program the DOE Office of Indian Energy is rolling out in Fiscal Year 2015 will respond directly to that need in Alaska. Part of a focused, regionalized approach to advancing clean energy solutions in rural Alaska, the program will train and develop regional energy ambassadors to provide Native villages with front line technical assistance.

The immediate goal is to provide Alaska Native entities with a standardized model and quality process that is repeatable and consistent, while enabling tailored energy efficiency and renewable energy options for each village. The longer-term goal of the program is to develop a “go-to” group of Alaskans who are trained in the basics of energy planning and stakeholder development. In addition to DOE, a variety of other federal agencies will support the Alaska Energy Ambassadors Program.