ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Anchorage may soon be home to the largest community solar project in Alaska. Chugach Electric is expected to spend around $2 million to construct a 2,000 solar panel field capable of generating 550 megawatt hours per year.
"There will be 500 shares available to members and each share will supplement about 15 percent to 17 percent of energy use," said Sean Skaling, Manager of Business & Sustainable Program Development for Chugach Electric.
After surveying nearly 700 Chugach Members, the co-operative found that 63 percent wanted to see solar projects developed, and 60 percent of those said they'd be willing to pay more for solar power once developed.
Interested Chugach Electric members will be able to buy the shares, which will increase their individual bills slightly, but will help build a more environmentally-friendly generation system.
"We think it's going to be about a $10-a-month (additional) premium, so on average you'll maybe see $25-a-month and you'll get $15 for a monthly premium of about $10 in solar," said Skaling.
Driving down Electron Road, where the company is headquartered, just east of Minnesota Drive and south of International Airport Road, Skaling points out an empty field that will soon be home to the Chugach Electric Electron Village.
"It was originally a gravel yard, it was just a laydown yard for when we were building south central power project. That's where most of Chugach’s Power comes from," said Skaling.
Sustainability is becoming a bigger part of the bottom line for most companies and Chugach is no different. Skaling says that the company’s new philosophy believes that success is measured by financial profit, environmental benefit, and social impact -- not just making money. The shares are expected to go on sale in March and will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.
Chugach members interested in receiving occasional email updates about the project can send an email with their email address to firstname.lastname@example.org.