CHENA HOT SPRINGS/ANCHORAGE - A growing group of Alaskans want the energy discussion to turn to renewable energy.
And according to energy experts, it's not just Alaska that needs a "more reliable resource." A 2010 study by the Renewable Energy Alaska Project (REAP) showed only 8 percent of the United States’ energy consumption was renewable. But those same experts said Alaska is in luck, because the Last Frontier has every kind of renewable energy.
"This is the power plant," said Bernie Karl. "It's a geothermal power plant."
Karl is the proud creator of a geothermal power plant at Chena Hot Springs, just outside of Fairbanks. "Behind us are the O.R.C's: organic rank and cycle," said Karl, pointing to three giant turbines that power a hydroponic greenhouse, the hot springs and 44 buildings that make up the resort. "What we are doing is taking 165 degree water and making history. First time in the history of man."
He said he is paving the road for renewable energy "imagineers."
"Einstein said that imagination is far more important that knowledge. If you can imagine it, you can do it. If you can't imagine it, you can't do it."
Currently, the hot springs is running off of two turbines, but a third one is close to completion. "We borrowed $650,000 from the energy fund," Karl said, adding that he used a couple million out of his on pocket. "And then we got a grant for $240,000 of Power Equalization money."
But it's just a start. "In order to stabilize energy prices, we are working on getting more renewable energy, which is not based on fuel into those communities," said Chris Rose, of REAP.
Rose said there has been a big push for this kind of work, especially in rural Alaska. "I think a lot of that push has been because the state legislature passed the Renewable Energy Grant Fund, which has since 2008 appropriated over 200 million-dollar projects around the state, aiming at communities who have the highest cost of energy."
Another solution is lies off the shores of Alaska's 44,000 miles of coastline.
"We are truly one of the world's most robust tidal energy environments, and not only tidal energy, but wave energy, as well as ocean currents," said Douglas Johnson, of the Ocean Renewable Power Company.
According to the Electric Power Research Institute, more than half of the country's potential wave energy lies in Alaska oceans and rivers.
"The environmental benefits are really clear," said Johnson. "First of all devices like ours produce no emissions; there is no fluids in them or oil that could leak out. And in the environment they are fairly benign."
But renewable energy experts say no matter the source, we need to find an alternative to resources that aren’t renewable.