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Juneau Hydropower Conservation: past, present and future


One way to preserve Juneau's hydropower capacity is simply to use less electricity through conservation measures and more efficient uses of electricity.  On April 16, 2008 Juneau experienced a one in a hundred year avalanche that cut off Snettisham generated power from the Juneau electrical grid system. A series of avalanches damaged and destroyed the transmission towers along a mile-and-a-half stretch of the line that delivers hydropower to Juneau. As a result, Alaska Electric Light & Power had to supply all of its power from diesel generators, despite record-high prices at the time for diesel fuel. Diesel fuel consumption rapidly shot above 80,000 gallons per day, but once residents found out that electricity rates would increase from about 11 cents per kilowatt-hour to 52.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, the city and its residents rapidly pursued ways to save energy. As a result, Juneau’s peak power usage dropped from about 50 megawatts before the avalanches to below 30 megawatts by late May. Total electricity usage dropped from about 1,000 megawatt-hours per day before the crisis to roughly 600 megawatt-hours per day in late May, a 40% drop. For the last week in May 2008, the city's diesel fuel use averaged only about 35,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day.[1]

 A subsequent Snettisham avalanche in January 2009 led again to additional temporary conservation measures.[2]

Juneau has other examples of conservationism and efficient use of energy. The Juneau School District (JSD) has been a national leader in energy conservation. The Juneau School District incurred a $2,063,000 savings (through November 2011 equal to 28.28 percent of what energy costs would have been without the help of an innovative energy conservation program the district started in 2007.[3]

By implementing best practices for energy use throughout the JSD school system, energy savings are created, enhancing the learning environment and retaining dollars for education. The JSD system tracks energy consumption — including electricity, water, sewer, and fuel oil — using energy accounting software from EnergyCAP, Inc.  The system compares current energy use to a baseline period and calculates the amount of energy that would have been used had conservation and management practices not been implemented. By tracking consumption and analyzing energy use, JSD staff can quickly identify and help correct areas that need immediate attention.

Four Juneau Schools Earn EPA’s ENERGY STARŪ- Juneau-Douglas High School, Floyd Dryden Middle School, Auke Bay Elementary School and Glacier Valley Elementary School were each recognized by the Juneau Board of Education in 2010 for their success in saving energy. All four schools earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) prestigious ENERGY STAR, the national symbol for protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency. EPA’s ENERGY STAR energy performance scale helps organizations assess how efficiently their buildings use energy relative to similar buildings nationwide. A building that scores a 75 or higher on EPA’s 1-100 scale is eligible for the ENERGY STAR. All four Juneau schools achieved scores in the 90s.

Alaska Electric Light & Power has recently hired Alec Mesdag as an Energy Services Specialist to help and assist Juneau businesses and residences increase their energy efficiencies and implement conservation measures. For more information on energy conservation ideas, please visit the energy and conservation page of AEL&P’s website: