News Release
Release No.STELPRD4013325
ContactLarry Yerich(907) 271-2424 ext. 125
(NOVEMBER 4, 2011) THREE ALASKA COMPANIES TO RECEIVE HIGH ENERGY COST GRANTS PROGRAM FUNDING
Anchorage, Alaska, Nov 04, 2011 --

@@ USDA-RD Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund today announced three Alaska organizations will receive funding through the USDA-RD’s Rural Utilities Service High Energy Cost Grants (HECG) program.

“This funding is available for upgrading and furnishing energy generation, transmission and distribution facilities that serve rural communities with average home energy costs exceeding 275% of the national average. Rural Alaska communities face extremely high energy costs and this program assists them with moving away from diesel fuel and towards greater efficiency,” said Nordlund.

Grant funds may be used for on-grid and off-grid renewable energy projects, energy efficiency and energy conservation projects serving eligible rural communities. Applications for competitive grant awards are accepted only during the application period, which is announced in a published Notice of Funding Availability.

The following are recipients of HECG program funding:

    • Alaska Village Initiatives – $443,779

To increase current generator efficiency, increase engine torque and power, decrease diesel fuel consumption and reduce emissions by installing two hydrogen generation systems in five villages: Beaver, Chefornak, Levelock, Ruby and Fort Yukon.

“Alaska Village Initiatives (AVI) is very excited to work with USDA-RD to implement this tremendous new program.  Alaskan villages face some of the highest energy costs in the United States, and do so with some of the lowest per capita incomes.  Rural Development programs such as this are critical to improving the quality of life in rural Alaska, and in assisting in our efforts to improve the sustainability of these communities in harsh economic conditions.  We look forward to working with the agency to show the viability of this technology and make a substantial impact throughout rural Alaska,” said Charles Parker, President and CEO of AVI.

    • Gwitchyaa Zhee Utility Company (GZ Utilities) – $3,500,000

To construct a new Combined Heat and Power facility to replace an obsolete, inefficient and dilapidated power plant and to extend its existing distribution system to meet un-served electric needs in the community.

“The Combined Heat and Power facility will be comprised of a new energy efficient diesel power plant with heat recovery, a wood biomass boiler and a district heating system that GZ Utilities serves in the Fort Yukon community. We are excited to be able to move forward with new heating and power technology for our community, Fort Yukon, where we are not only faced with the escalated price of fuel but also dealing with the extreme cold temps in the winter. Our 600 residents will greatly benefit with the savings of operating an efficient new combined heat & power (CHP) facility. Many homes are being upgraded with modern appliances. GZ Utilities’ new power house will be able to keep pace by using heat recovery with a biomass boiler, which allows us to add alternative energy methods,” said Gwitchyaa Zhee General Manager, Fannie Carroll.

    • Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority (THRHA) – $1,000,000

For a project designed to reduce the extremely high energy costs by an estimated 30 – 50 percent for seniors and other low-income families living in THRHA housing in three rural communities: Angoon, Hoonah and Kake.

“The cheapest kilowatt of electricity is the kilowatt you never have to use and this award couldn’t come at a better time. We’re glad to receive support from USDA-RD. By working together we will make a difference, especially for rural Southeast Alaska communities struggling to address the high cost of energy and provide economic stability and jobs for local residents. This grant will improve energy efficiency and heating upgrades in 40 elderly and low-income housing units where the estimated cost for household heat and electric is upward of 43% of the average household income. The energy retrofits will conserve energy and help reduce the cost of living,” said Craig Moore, THRHA VP of Planning and Development.

“THRHA will continue working closely with Tribal partners to train and hire local residents. The role of community members, including youth, is a critical component to conserving energy. Funding from this grant will support residents that want a better understanding on how to conserve energy in their home,” added Moore.

Earlier this year, the Denali Commission received $5,775,000 of USDA-RD’s RUS funding through the HECG program.

Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, developing renewable energy, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.

USDA-Rural Development administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

For more information, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov

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