Energy secretary praises Alaska’s innovation in renewables

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm talk about renewable energy with National Hydropower Association President Malcolm Woolf on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, at an event at The Lakefront Anchorage. (Matthew Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited Fairbanks and Anchorage this week to learn about how Alaska communities are innovating to produce renewable energy. 

“What those communities need, given the shifting nature of the permafrost etc., and what they will need going into the future,” she told reporters on Monday. “But then how those solutions could also be solutions for like Puerto Rico — you know, that kind of creating a space that can be incredibly resilient from all manner of weather.”

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks with U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. (Matthew Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski traveled with Granholm. She said Alaskans innovate because they have to, because they need sustainable energy generation to survive and because they have requirements that may be specific to their area.

“All of the great ideas don’t necessarily come out of Washington, D.C.,” Murkowski told reporters, with Granholm at her side. “They don’t necessarily come out of our national labs. They’re coming from our living laboratories here in Alaska. And I think you saw some of that yesterday. “

“For sure,” Granholm responded.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. (Matthew Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska is known for pioneering wind power with diesel back up, microgrids and run-of-river hydropower that does not require a large dam. Murkowski and Granholm also cited the state’s success with geothermal, biomass, solar and the potential to harness the tides.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at

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