Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Institute of the North| 2013 Alaska Dialogue ...

I am working this morning on my presentation(s) for this year's Institute of the North Alaska Dialogue.  The Dialogue is this coming weekend.

For those of you not familiar, the Dialogue is an annual event hosted by the Institute, which each year takes an in-depth look at -- and attempts to formulate responses to -- a critical issue facing Alaska.  This year the Dialogue is focused on Developing Criteria for Energy Decision-Making.

In a step beyond from past sessions, this year's dialogue will be Co-Chaired by leaders of the Senate In-State and House Energy Committees.  The intention is to feed the outcomes from the Dialogue into legislative action this coming session.

As most readers of these pages realize, although an energy rich state from some perspectives, large portions of the state, both urban and rural, nevertheless face significant challenges both in the availability and cost of local energy.  For a long time state government has attempted to help local communities deal with those issues through various forms of subsidies and grants.

But as Alaska increasingly comes to grips with the limits of its fiscal capacity -- my most recent effort to explain that is available here -- those that think about such issues are confronting how to prioritize remaining state spending among various projects.  Some -- including a number involved in the process -- view the current process as ad hoc, at best.  The purpose of this Dialogue is to focus on developing criteria which will help to guide the prioritization of those efforts.

My presentation the first evening will focus on "Sustainable Spending and State of Alaska Fiscal Planning."  It is intended as an overview of the state's fiscal situation and will largely focus on the conclusions reached by the University of Alaska - Anchorage's Institute of Social and Economic Research earlier this year.  Other presentations the first evening -- they are intended as "lightening round" (five minute) presentations -- will focus on Alaska’s Energy Portfolio, Alaska’s Energy Policy and Strategies for Implementation, Railbelt Utilities and Potential Options, Policy Recommendations that Affect Renewables, The Economics of Energy, Alternative Messages and Options, Community Challenges in the Bering Straits Region, Natural Gas – Limitations and Legacies, and Independent Power Producers.

The morning of the second day is focused on "Case studies of effective energy policies, projects and analysis."  Larry Persily and I will discuss the effectiveness of recent state policies directed toward the Cook Inlet.  Others will address other success cases, including some outside Alaska and indeed, outside the United States.

The opening part of the afternoon will be devoted to the "Structural, Fiscal and Procedural Realities of Implementing SOA’s Energy Policy."  The panel will be led by legislators.  The second part of the afternoon will be devoted to the goal of the Dialogue -- developing criteria going forward for state energy decision making.

There are a few spots remaining for this year's conference, which will be held at the Windsong Lodge in Seward.  If you are interested in joining in the process -- and I would encourage those of you interested in this area to do so -- the details, including registration materials, are available here.