Research Matters #53: Alaska Energy Statistics 1960-2008

A new report from the Institute of Social and Economic Research, prepared for the Alaska Energy Authority, looks in detail at electricity in Alaska as of 2008, the most recent year for which federal statistics are available. The report, by Ginny Fay, Alejandra Villalobos Melendez, and other ISER researchers, examines how much electricity individual utilities generated in 2008, with what types of fuel, at what electric rates, and with what level of CO2 emissions.

Energy Consumed in Alaska for Transportation, Commercial, Industrial, and Residential Uses

In a special section, the researchers also provide the first new estimates since 2001 of Alaska’s energy balance: how much energy from all sources was produced in Alaska in 2008, how much was exported and imported, and how much was consumed in Alaska and for what purposes. The researchers found:

• Alaska utilities generated about 6.5 million megawatt-hours in 2008, up nearly 40% from 20 years earlier.

• In 2008, utilities statewide relied on natural gas to generate 61% of electricity, hydropower 17%, diesel and other oil products 16%, coal 6%, and wind less than 0.1%. The share from wind will increase over time, because most wind capacity was added after 2008. The regional picture of electricity generation is much different from the statewide picture, with the railbelt region relying mostly on natural gas, some parts of Southeast Alaska depending mostly on hydropower, and remote rural areas using primarily diesel.

How Much is a Trillion BTW?

• Both natural gas and diesel have seen sharp price increases over time, but diesel prices are up the most. The real (adjusted for inflation) price of diesel is more than triple what it was in 1970, while the real price of natural gas is up about 80%.

• About 88% of the energy Alaska produced in 2008—as measured in energy-equivalent units— was crude oil. About 9% was natural gas and 2% coal; wind, hydropower, and wood combined made up less than 1%.

• Roughly 85% of the oil and a third of the coal produced in Alaska in 2008 was exported, but all the natural gas was used in-state.

• Nearly a third of all the energy consumed in Alaska in 2008 was jet fuel—most of which is consumed not by Alaskans but by national and international passenger and cargo carriers flying into and out of Alaska’s largest airports.

• Another third of consumption in 2008 was diesel, gasoline, and other petroleum products; 11% natural gas; 5% electricity; and 2% coal. Another 10% of energy was consumed producing electricity—generating electricity consumes more energy than it produces in electricity. The last 10% of consumption was likely natural gas and coal, but the researchers couldn’t trace how it was consumed.

To see the report, visit http://iser.uaa.alaska.edu/Publications/AlaskaEnergyStatistics2011.pdf .
If you have questions, get in touch Alejandra Villalobos Melendez: 907-786-5454 or anvm@uaa.alaska.edu

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