As climate change continues to affect our lives, the communities at the northern extremes of our world have witnessed the changes most profoundly. In the Arctic, where climate change is melting permafrost and causing major shoreline erosion, remote communities in Alaska and northern Canada are particularly vulnerable. Furthermore, these communities have limited access to electrical grids and bear oppressive energy costs relying on diesel generators. While some communities have started to incorporate renewable energy into their hamlets and villages, progress has generally been limited with the notable exception of Canada’s Northwest Territories and some coastal communities in western Alaska. During its latest stint as chair of the Arctic Council, the United States outlined community renewable energy in the Arctic as one of its primary goals. This Note focuses on regulatory and practical policy solutions to make that goal possible. It draws on examples from industrialized countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as examples from developing countries, such as India and Peru, to examine solutions for the technical, economic, regulatory, and community engagement problems that Arctic communities in Alaska face when setting up new energy projects. Additionally, this Note describes the current political structure of Alaskan villages under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and argues that Alaska Native Corporations should play a role in developing clean, cheap energy sources for their shareholders. Finally, this Note argues that public-private partnerships, like the non-profit Arctic Energy Alliance in the Northwest Territories, shows that clean, renewable energy projects for rural Arctic villages are possible throughout the Arctic. This Note draws lessons from other communities throughout the world and attempts to apply them to the unique situations that remote northern Alaska communities face regarding access to clean, renewable energy.
Breaking Barriers to Renewable Energy Production in the North American Arctic,
35 Alaska Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/alr/vol35/iss1/4