Hope resides in multiple energy sources

Posted: Friday, March 25, 2011

A few stories in the news this week provided a good example of a topic we've already touched on so far this year -- where our energy is going to come from.

In one story, The Associated Press wrote about U.S. Sen. Mark Begich's address to the Alaska Legislature. Begich said that political troubles overseas, especially in the Middle East, can help encourage a pro-development climate within Congress. Lawmakers have been home for spring break and likely getting an earful from constituents who've grown agitated over high fuel prices resulting from the turmoil. That could translate into more favorable legislation that includes offshore drilling, opening the Arctic National Wildlife refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, Begich suggested.

OK, let's stop a moment for a reality check. We've heard that kind of rhetoric before. We like it. It's what we want to hear; it's what all Alaskans want to hear. We know nothing much has come of it before. Still, when we stop hearing that kind of cheerleading for Alaska development, we should really begin to worry.

So, now that we've put that news in its proper perspective . . .

The second story that caught our attention was news that the Ocean Renewable Power Company is continuing its studies in Cook Inlet to see if we can tap the energy of the tides. We already have vivid images of what destructive power lies in water. Imagine what we could do with that energy if we could harvest it.

OK, time to stop for another reality check. Tapping tidal power, or hydrokinetic, as the company calls it, is years into the future. The company is still in the environmental study stage. The company has a working prototype in Maine, but bringing one to Alaska is still a dream.

And now that we've put that second piece of news into its proper perspective . . .

Finally, yet another story earlier this week updated us on new natural gas exploration efforts in our own back yard. Buccaneer Alask LLC is doing site preparation for its Kenai Loop No. 1 well, Escopeta Oil and Gas Co. has loaded the jack-up rig for its trip to Cook Inlet, and Cook Inlet Region Inc. is drilling an exploration well in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Here's the point. Old methods, new methods. There's no reason both can't be pursued. In an ideal situation, the old methods -- tapping non-renewable energy sources -- will be on its way out just as new methods -- tapping the eternal winds and/or waves -- will reach the feasible stage.

We are glad that we're seeing headlines touting both those endeavors. It will be a catastrophic disappointment if either one of those stories ends in failure.

In short: Progress on developing all energy fronts means an easier transition down the road.

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