She’s three weeks on the job as Anchorage’s energy and sustainability coordinator—a first in city history.

The new position comes with a $100,000 price tag. But, Shaina Kilcoyne is expected to save the municipality much more than that by managing energy efforts throughout the city.

At the Anchorage Landfill, for example, money is something you can smell-- but it isn't pretty. The trash turns to gas, which the city sells to the military for energy on base.

Figuring out how to sell more of it is just one small piece of Kilcoyne's job.

"This was a really great starting point because the project was already in motion," Kilcoyne said. "I'm just kind of inserting myself to make sure that we keep hitting the next step and keep that project moving forward, getting through those barriers."

Kilcoyne was hired at the beginning of May after an energy analysis commissioned by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz in 2015 found the city needed a coordinator more than anything else to manage all of the report's recommendations.

"My job is really to focus on these recommendations and help those departments move through with them," Kilcoyne said.

Departments like public transit.

"Over 50 percent of our community's energy use is from highway motor fuels, so that's a really big chunk," Kilcoyne explained.

For the last four months, Anchorage has been test-driving an electric bus. The experiment saved the city the equivalent of 270,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to Kilcoyne.

Now, it's up to Kilcoyne to find out whether going all electric could save the city money, too.

"Right now, what we learned from that study is that our facilities are woefully deficient, and you know, they're older facilities and they're just not ready to take on such an electric load," Kilcoyne said.

From selling more methane to the military or moving mass transit from gas to electricity, the city sees a potential for profit by going greener. And now, it has a manager with the energy to make it happen.

Kilcoyne also sits on the city's Military and Veterans Affairs Commission and the Solid Waste and Recycling Commission. She previously worked for the Southeast Sustainability Partnership.

Have questions or comments about this story? Email reporter Liz Raines.

Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.


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