By RICK WHITBECK | POWER THE FUTURE
Many Alaskans know the tale of the Trojan Horse as a metaphor for deception masked as a gift with dangerous or deadly consequences. The sad part is we might be witnessing the tragic outcome happening right under our nose throughout our state – even without a giant wooden horse as a prop.
Working from every direction – top-down, bottom-up and center-out – while building coalitions between environmental, social-justice, “woke” organizations and idealogues, eco-extremists are making inroads in local and state government, school boards, planning commissions, road service authorities and even public utility boards.
From those positions, they have launched destructive initiatives designed to advance their collective agenda, while penalizing Alaskans for living, working and playing in our God-given grandeur.
Let’s focus on the utility board elections up and down the Railbelt as an example for what they desire to inflict on Alaskans. Each of Golden Valley Electric, Matanuska Electric, Chugach Electric, and Homer Electric have seen “green” energy activists elected to their respective boards. These elections either created parity in numbers between business-minded board members and zealots, or formed a majority of eco-left directors.
Utility board elections are different from other races in the state. For starters, they generally garner less than 10% voter turnout, so they’re under the radar and largely ignored. Except for contract renewal periods, when pro-consumer advocate slates clash with union-friendly candidates, there is little coordination between interested applicants.
These elections aren’t overseen by Alaska’s Public Offices Commission, which keeps the public from knowing the amounts of money and activism behind candidates’ campaigns. All that said, they can be greatly influenced by coordination between interest groups and the candidates themselves.
We saw this in Chugach Electric Associatin’s last election. Working together, groups including the Alaska Center and the Renewable Energy Alaska Project publicly backed a slate of candidates whose focus was on decarbonization of Chugach’s operations.
Estimates of the “green” candidates outspending the pro-consumer slate by 500% or more wouldn’t be an exaggeration, given the multitude of mailers, phone calls and get-out-the-vote activities witnessed and reported by Chugach Electric members throughout the election cycle in support of the activists.
Two of the three extremists won, while the third just missed being seated. Chugach’s board now holds a 5-4 majority for the “green” movement. That’s not good for ratepayers.
With extremists in power positions across the state’s electric utility boards, expect to see actions to cripple Alaska’s resource development-driven economy and lock up the state from future opportunities. They’ll propose programs to replace coal, natural gas and other traditional energy sources with wind, solar and other renewables.
You’ll also hear about Renewable Portfolio Standards, which is a forced market manipulation, whereby penalties are enforced for not transitioning an increasingly high percentage of the utility’s energy production to renewables during an arbitrary time period. The activist-driven desire is to have the Railbelt at 80% renewables by 2040 (compared to 15% today).
Those goals, aside from being impossible to meet given today’s technologies and “green” energy and battery storage limitations, would also be dangerous to Alaskans. A winter storm in Texas crippled wind turbines in February 2021, leading to grid failure and tragically taking 246 lives.
Sadly, families in California are all-too-used to rolling blackout warnings, as their renewables-driven grid lacks the capacity and reliability to provide consistent load during periods of high use.
No one should want Alaska to be the next poster child for energy failure, but that’s where we’re headed if the “green” advocates get their way. Alaska’s issues could be even more extreme than Texas or California, as solar is effectively useless half the year, and wind power is intermittent at best throughout the Railbelt.
Alaskans are blessed with abundant supplies of natural gas in Cook Inlet and the North Slope, and further tapping and developing those resources would allow our state to continue with low-cost, reliable energy for decades, if not longer.
Now is the time for Alaskans to recognize the calls to decarbonize, transition, “go green” and “save the planet” are nothing more than Trojan Horse-style maneuverings from the Left.
Accepting their premises and not aggressively rejecting their gifts of bipartisanship, consensus and moderation will lead to the fall of Alaska. Let’s not end up like Troy.
Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @PTFAlaska.