One of the reasons Alaska is moving out in front in the alternative/renewable energy field is the many different options that are available. We have rivers galore, tidal and wave action in the oceans, geothermal possibilities all over the place, wind and more wind, and believe it or not we get a lot of sun. Actually, we get a lot of sun in the summer…not so much in the winter.
The fact that hydro-fuels are so expensive in many communities makes people wonder if there are less expensive ways to make power than burning $ 8 per gallon diesel. The high cost of energy is the number one reason Alaskans keep tinkering with alternatives. Although the environment is always a consideration, the cost of the power is at the forefront of peoples minds. If the cost of alternative energy is expensive, then it is impractical, and Alaskans are practical people.
Another reason that Alaska is moving to the front of the pack in the search for alternative energy solutions are the Alaskan people themselves. Alaskans tend to be an independent bunch, and the thought of producing one’s own power without dependence on a utility company is very attractive. They are willing to take risks and try things that others may not.
A few years back I helped Ricky and Shannon Wilder buy a home in the Matanuska Valley. A photo of thier home is at the top of this post. This property is on a large parcel of land between the Talkeetna And Chugach Mountain Ranges. The Matanuska River and the Glenn Highway are in the same valley but several miles from their home. The home was primarily powered by a generator when they purchased it but the Wilders have been weaning themselves from the generator ever since they moved in.
Along with their son Jordan, they have learned so much about alternative power that Ricky and Jordan wrote and published an e-book on wind power. The Ultimate Consumers Guide to Wind Power walks you through the options for wind power. Written from the perspective of people who actually depend on wind power, this book is a practical solution for anyone looking into this option for themselves.
Ricky and Jordan also have a website, (power-talk.net) on which they discuss and review actual products from a users perspective. They are not trying to sell you a product with their reviews but hope to save you time and money when you start getting serious about alternative energy for your own home.
The Wilders are have been working with solar as well. They report that they get usable solar power from February through October and hope to increase their solar array this year to take advantage of these months. In fact Ricky told me that March and April are great months for solar power because the sunlight is increasing and reflecting off the snow at the same time.
They heat their house and garage with a central wood boiler that is located behind the house. The hot water is piped into the house and garage which both have radiant in-floor heating systems. The Wilders harvest their firewood in a sustainable fashion using birch and spruce grown on their own property.
With wind and solar producing electricity and with wood heat they are almost completely self-sustaining. Shannon tends a large garden in the sunny spot in front of their home to help with their self-sufficiency.
They still need to purchase fuel for their transportation and saws but who knows…with battery technology improving all the time, perhaps they will be able to break the hydrocarbon habit completely.
All photos provided by Ricky Wilder…click on any photo to enlarge.