Straddling the Arctic Circle on the Chukchi Sea, the Northwest Alaska Native Association (NANA) region constitutes the boundaries of the Northwest Arctic Borough (NWAB), and has a population of about 7,600 people. The high cost of energy in the NANA region is one of the leading threats to the long term sustainability and well-being of the region. As a result of complex and lengthy logistics, the region has some of the highest energy prices in the nation. In addition to the cost of fossil fuels, NANA region residents are increasingly aware of the effects of greenhouse gases on climate change and the resulting coastal erosion along the Chukchi Sea. NANA Regional Corporation, along with other regional stakeholders, has developed a regional integrated energy plan. This approach includes community specific energy options analyses, benefit-cost analyses of competing alternatives, analysis of available literature and past experiences, surveying of professional opinion, and a regional energy summit that involved multiple stakeholders. Since the mid-1990s, the NANA region has been an Alaska leader in promoting and developing renewable energy resources with wind turbine installations in Kotzebue and Selawik. Promising wind energy potential is under investigation in several more communities, and other known energy resources being studied include geothermal, small-scale hydropower, and a substantial biomass potential in the upper Kobuk River area. Also under investigation are stranded natural gas sources and even solar PV installations for some communities. Energy security in the region will be achieved by a combination of infrastructure improvement and development of appropriate energy technologies, both traditional and renewable. It is the vision of NANA region stakeholders to be 75% reliant on regionally available energy resources for heating and electric generation purposes by the year 2030, and to decrease the need for transportation fuel imported into the region by 50% by the year 2030. As part of this vision, imported fossil fuels would remain as emergency/back-up fuel only. With proper planning, a synergy can be developed between different energy sources and uses, with the composition of the optimal ‘energy-mix’ custom-tailored for each community in the NANA region. The energy planning process will be conducted with the understanding that the optimum mix may change over time.

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