Letter to the editor: New energy options for Alaska

Surprising news from two different sources. Analysts now believe that consumers will purchase electric vehicles at a much faster rate than previously thought and before long, our nation’s oil consumption will begin to drop significantly and so will oil prices.

What does that mean for Alaska? Given the lack of political will to tax our oil producers the same way they are taxed in the Lower 48, it will likely mean low-to-no PFD’s, more cuts to state services, an income tax and a much-reduced workforce, not only in the oilfield but in the public and private sector.

On a related note, what about these wind turbines we see everywhere down in America?

Wind turbines cost about $4 million each, installed. There are more than 52,000 of these turbines generating 82 gigawatts of power — and 25,000 jobs — throughout the United States. These jobs will probably be around for decades to come.

Here in Cook Inlet, we are sitting on the second most abundant source of tidal power in the world and it is virtually untapped. And it could be our economic salvation.

What if we embark on a Manhattan Project-style initiative to become pioneers in harnessing tidal power? Several companies are already doing it — some with mixed results. What if we liquidate a small portion of our under-performing bonds in the Permanent Fund and use these funds as venture capital to engineer and build tidal energy turbines that would provide LOW COST electricity all along the Rail Belt? It could generate thousands of jobs, directly or indirectly. We’ve got the engineers, welders, mechanics, technicians and great logistics. Our people are hardworking and innovative. We could do this.

We could sell this equipment worldwide. When people see wind turbines, most folks think of the Dutch company, Vestas. If we put the right people at the helm of our project and use our public education system to cultivate and support a renewable energy culture, when folks in the Netherlands think about harnessing tidal power, they’ll come to us.

We may not be able to stave off the economic disaster awaiting us thanks to politicians legislating under the influence of oil money, but we could take steps today to secure a stable employment base for ourselves and our children. Let’s start talking about this.