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Juneau Continues to Conserve Electricity 3 Years After Avalanches
Published: 06/16/2011 18:58:00
Three years ago when avalanches cut off Juneau from the Snettisham hydro power plant forcing the city to oil fired backup generators and causing the price of electricity to jump 5 fold; the city pulled together to conserve power and reduced Juneau's overall electricity consumption by 25 to 30 percent. A recently released report revealed that the effects of that reduction continue to be seen today, though how much is becoming increasingly unclear.

Scott Willis is the VP of Generation at Alaska Electric Light & Power; he gave us an update: "It's a very difficult thing to determine, because as time goes on; we have additional loads that come on in the system; new buildings that are built, new uses of energy. We have other conservation that's happening from people that are just doing energy efficiency improvements in their homes. And we have the effects of weather. It's hard to compare one year to another because in cold years we end up using more energy. So it's a little bit difficult to determine, but we can say that we are still not up to pre avalanche energy use levels. We're getting there as new loads come on in town; but it may be another year or two before we are back up to those levels."

Juneau's total power consumption in 2010 was still almost 7% less than in 2007, the year before the avalanches.

Juneau total (firm) energy use:
2007 = 319 GWh.
2008 = 291 GWh. -8.7%
2009 = 298 GWh. +2.4%
2010 = 299 GWh. +0.2%

Gayle Wood, VP & Director of Consumer Affairs at AEL&P, said that the continued conservation shows. "I believe that people are making concerted changes, I think people are more aware of the energy they are using, be it diesel or electricity." Said Wood.

Conservation take two basic forms; technological improvements and upgrades, and changes in our habits and how we electricity every day.

According to Willis; both are still factors: "Certainly the technological conservation still persists, it's still there. Every compact fluorescent bulb that was screwed in during the avalanche is still there, still saving energy.

The behavioral conservation, I'm certain so of the very aggressive things people were doing; hanging their clothes in the garage to dry perhaps, and those kinds of things; some of that went away, but some of that is still there. I think many of our consumers are more sensitive to turning out lights in the rooms they're not in, and those kinds of things. So some of the behavioral conservation still exists."

By: Mikko Wilson -