By Louise Freeman
Alaska Business Monthly
With high energy costs causing financial hardship for rural residents throughout the state, Alaska Native corporations, NGOs and state and federal agencies have been scrambling to find ways to address the problem. Weatherization programs are one answer, but however effective these programs are, they are expensive to fund - up to $35,000 per home - complex to plan, and often take years to implement. There has been a need for simple and cost-effective solutions that can be put in place immediately.
The cost of energy in rural Alaska "is an issue we are working in partnership with other regional organizations to address, but it is the single largest barrier to regional economic development," said Marie Greene, president and CEO of NANA Regional Corp. Inc. (NANA). In 2010, Rural Alaska Community Action Program (RurAL CAP), a statewide, private, nonprofit organization, used approximately $2.5 million in federal 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to launch a pilot program to address one aspect of rural energy use that has often been ignored: education.
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