Largest state rural solar project almost finished in Kotzebue

Photo courtesy of Alaska Native Renewable Industries

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska Native Renewable Industries is finishing up what they call the largest rural solar project in Alaska. The project in Kotzebue will produce over 700,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year for the Kotzebue Electric Association.

A total of 1,440 solar panels that generate energy on each side of the panel were used for the project. CEO and President of ANRI, Edwin Bifelt, said this makes the project the second-largest solar endeavor in Alaska.

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The KEA already has a wind farm that produces a great amount of energy in the winter when Kotzebue needs the most electricity, the KEA said on its website. Bifelt said adding another renewable energy source is especially important for this rural area to have more options year round.

“A goal for them is just to reduce reliance on diesel fuel,” Bifelt said.

ANRI began working on installation earlier this year and had expected to complete construction by April but had to postpone its timeline while COVID-19 travel restrictions and safety ordinances were in place. The project employed around 20 people, most of whom were from the Northwest Arctic region.

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