Letters to the Editor
To the Editor,
Girdwood Bear Aware (GBA) is writing to thank every member of this community who has come out to support our mission as we get our program up and running this year. We have received emails and notes of support and encouragement from Girdwood Rotary, a grant award from the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area board (KMTA) and a lot of activity on our new Facebook page. Thank you Girdwood! It is so wonderful to have a community that stands behind our mission to reduce human/bear conflict through education, cooperation and active management initiatives in the community of Girdwood and surrounding area.
On Saturday, May 11th, GBA is hosting a free event to raise awareness as bears begin their season this year. Ellen Grover, Wildlife Education Specialist with Alaska Department of Fish and Game, will give a bear aware presentation and provide bear spray training, including the opportunity to step outside and practice spraying inert cans of bear spray. We will also have representation from the Municipality of Anchorage to talk about the new Urban Bear Ordinance that will be going into effect this summer and requiring bear resistant trash storage in Girdwood. GBA will have sign-up sheets for volunteer opportunities and information available about bears and who to call to report incidents of improperly stored trash or bear encounters.
The event will be at the Girdwood Fire Station from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. with free stickers, coffee and cookies, as well as fun activities for kids. Keep your eyes out for our event poster around town and join us to support bear awareness in Girdwood!
Chair, Girdwood Bear Aware
Concerned About Climate Change? Vote!
To the Editor,
Anyone who has lived in Alaska for more than a few years knows that global warming is real. I live in Girdwood and have seen the ski season shortened by 8 weeks in the last 7 years due to warmer temperatures. Alaska is warming at twice the global average rate and the scientific consensus is strongly in agreement that the warming we see is primarily due to elevated atmospheric CO2 levels. The combustion of fossil fuels for transportation and electric power generation are the largest contributors.
On April 19, Chugach Electric Association member-owners began voting to fill two seats on the Board of Directors who represent the members of the cooperative. I’m running for the CEA Board because I’m dissatisfied with the current directors, who have strong ties to the fossil fuel industry and no plan to control electric rates or address the root causes of climate change.
As CEA, we own the central portion of the Railbelt electricity grid, which runs from the Kenai Peninsula to the Mat-Su valley and serves about half of all Alaskans. Combined, CEA and Anchorage Municipal Light & Power supply over half the Railbelt electricity from their generators. About 80 percent of that electricity comes from just one source, Cook Inlet natural gas produced by a single company: Hilcorp.
This dependence leaves us vulnerable to shortages and price spikes. Our electricity is more expensive than any other state except Hawaii ($0.22/kWh on my last bill). Cook Inlet natural gas is more than twice as expensive as gas in the lower 48, and that price is only going to rise. As we draw down existing gas fields, the costs of new exploration and construction will drive the price up far beyond what we’ve seen. A state study from last year suggests that by 2030, new gas production would need to sell for nearly double the current price to be economic for companies to develop.
We must prepare now for our energy future. This future will include more renewables, energy storage and smart systems for moving electricity when and where it is needed. To get there, we need to improve our system to allow low cost renewables to be integrated into the grid, keep rates down, and prepare for the future. Without these improvements, we’ll be stuck with skyrocketing costs and no quick fix. While we can’t get there immediately, if we don’t start now, we can’t get there at all.
CEA is a cooperative, as are most Railbelt utilities, and we can decide its priorities. Elections for the Board of Directors are now underway for the CEA, as well as the Matanuska and Homer Electric Associations. In each of these elections there are candidates who are all-in for 100% renewable grids and who know how to get there. If you want to do something about climate change and also save hundreds and eventually thousands on your annual electric bill, vote for those candidates. Make the decision to vote now and make a difference.
Mitchell Roth is Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is a candidate for the Chugach Electric Association Board of Directors.