During Field Hearing in Alaska, King Presses for Innovative Energy Solutions to Support Maine’s Remote Communities

BETHEL, AK – February 19, 2016 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) yesterday participated in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Field Hearing in Bethel, Alaska where he advocated for the development and deployment of innovative renewable energy technologies to help power rural and remote communities in Maine and across the country. The hearing followed a visit to Oscarville, Alaska, a small community on the Kuskowin River just outside of Bethel whose residents have to shoulder the burden of high energy prices because of the town’s remoteness.

“Remote communities in Alaska are facing many of the same challenges that remote communities in Maine are – namely, high energy prices that stem directly from not being able to connect to a larger electric grid,” Senator King said following the hearing. “That’s why we need to continue to support innovative technologies that generate and store power independent of a larger grid. Not only will these technologies create a more stable, reliable, and affordable source of energy for people, but they will also serve as a model for how we can improve the way we produce and consume energy in the 21st century.”

With isolated communities in Alaska, like Oscarville, and island communities in Maine shouldering the heavy burden of high energy prices, the hearing today examined opportunities for the deployment of new, renewable technologies that can help reduce energy costs. During the hearing, Senator King questioned U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Alaska Governor Bill Walker, and state and local officials about the challenges that isolated communities confront in obtaining affordable energy and drew comparisons to similar challenges faced by Maine’s island communities, which confront some of the highest energy prices in the country.

Senator King also championed Maine-based companies, like Pika Energy in Westbrook and Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) in Portland, that are on the vanguard of developing clean, renewable energy technologies that can provide innovative energy supply solutions for isolated communities. In fact, ORPC has successfully installed a first-of-its-kind off-grid tidal project in the Kvichak River in Igiugig, Alaska that is sending power to back to shore and meeting nearly one-third of the community’s electrical load when operating at maximum capacity.

In addition to supporting robust federal funding for the development of these new technologies, and cosponsoring several pieces of legislation that will help hasten their deployment, Senator King has introduced the Free Market Energy Act of 2015, which would help people who live in remote locations – like Maine’s island communities – reduce their reliance on the energy grid by allowing them to pursue personal energy independence. Senator King successfully secured an amendment similar to provisions of the Free Market Energy Act in a broad, bipartisan energy bill passed by the ENR Committee in July 2015, and has offered a similar version of the legislation as an amendment to the bill under consideration on the Senate floor.

Senator King joined today’s hearing at the invitation of Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and co-founder of the Senate Arctic Caucus. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) also participated in the hearing.

Senator King, who is also a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, also attended a briefing on the strategic military situation in the Arctic while in Alaska.

For photos, click the hyperlinks below:

Photo 1: Sen. King at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee field hearing in Bethel, Alaska.

Photo 2: Sen. King at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee field hearing in Bethel, Alaska.

Photo 3: Sen. King, his colleagues, and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz preparing to board an Alaska National Guard HC-130 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska en route to Bethel, Alaska

Photo 4: Sen. King and his colleagues meet students at the local school following their tour of Oscarville, Alaska.

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