A Time to Invest in Alaskans
If you are a Chugach utility payer, then you may have already voted in this year’s elections. If you have not done so yet, you still have time to make decisions that can directly affect the long-term costs of your energy bills and pave the way for more diversified energy sources in our state. You have until May 19 to vote, and it’s a great way to show current and future board members that you are invested in the choices they make.
Another excellent opportunity to lower your costs and invest in a clean energy future is to learn how you can encourage your utilities to take advantage of the once-in-a-generation investments coming our way because of the Inflation Reduction Act.
The Inflation Reduction Act is a historic investment that will address the climate crisis while diversifying our energy and creating jobs. Alaska is at a crossroads and could be at the forefront of renewable energy integration and expansion.
Right now, we can encourage our leaders in the legislature and our utility boards to work to get these investments coming into Alaska by writing formal requests for grants to implement sweeping upgrades. We can start identifying energy efficiency gaps in our homes now. We can also identify community leaders who can help organize the process for homeowners, renters, and small businesses, especially those in more remote parts of Alaska, so that huge swaths of communities can benefit from bulk upgrades. Instead of one team coming out for each upgrade, we can start organizing times so one team can do multiple upgrades simultaneously. This will be a huge cost saver for Alaskan communities and ensure that the rebates and credits go further.
Moving forward, this investment in Alaska will help with those monthly bills in a variety of ways:
- It will make it more affordable for Alaska families to purchase energy-efficient appliances when needed and make home repairs that will make those energy bills cheaper. This includes point-of-sale rebates covering 50-100% of the installation cost. Hundreds of thousands of low and moderate-income households in Alaska are eligible.
- There will also be rebates for repairs and improvements to increase energy efficiencies for single-family and multi-family homes.
- There will be tax credits to cover 30% of the costs to install solar and make home improvements that will make homes more energy efficient.
- There will be tax credits to cover portions of community solar projects.
All of this is a massive investment in making our utilities more affordable, and right now, those of us who can afford to can start budgeting and take advantage of these rebates and credits. But more importantly, we can all start asking the tough questions of our leaders about how these investments can be more equitable so every Alaskan can benefit. We can encourage our leaders to push for community solar legislation, and we can provide our input as implementation plans roll out this fall and into spring on how these kinds of investments can work with and for the Alaskan communities who need them most.
The next ten years will see an influx of opportunities; it’s up to us to make sure they actually are accessible.
Leah Moss is an artist, activist, and the Communications and Creative Director for The Alaska Center.