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AK - Plan to Convert Natural Gas to Electricity Sans Pipelines

August 18, 2012

A company and a local Alaska Native corporation plan to convert North Slope natural gas to electricity and then distribute it across the state via power lines without the need for huge pipelines.

Proponents Present Idea to Alaska Legislators

Alaska may be able to convert North Slope natural gas to electricity and then distribute it across the state via power lines without the need for huge pipelines.

The system which was once proposed years ago involves the construction of a natural-gas-fired power facility, a 860-mile high voltage direct current (HVDC) power network, and converter stations in Fairbanks and Anchorage to change the DC power to alternating current or AC.

This is currently being floated to state lawmakers who are looking for solutions to residents’ woes related to rising energy costs.

All in all, the project would cost nearly US$4 billion.

The proponent, states that power lines nowadays extend to 300 miles, making electricity transmission economical and stable. Furthermore, technological innovations starting in the late 1990s have lowered the cost for transmission from an HVDC.

On Aug. 14, the proponent company and Alaska Native corporation revealed the plan to some lawmakers in Anchorage as a solution to expensive electricity. It was able to stir curiosity with Anchorage and Mat-Su power company representatives joining.

Offers Meera Kohler, president and chief executive of the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, "We haven't considered electric heat as a viable energy source in this state and that's where we've missed the boat.”

According to a rapid analysis by Marsh Creek and ABB, electricity could be provided from the North Slope to the Railbelt for 9.3 cents every kilowatt hour. This costs a lot lesser than the current rates in Fairbanks.

Nearly 80 percent of energy for heating houses in Alaska is drawn from diesel fuel which is greatly expensive compared to natural gas.

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