Small Alaska Town Eyes Big Waves to Power Economy
The big waves that crash ashore near Yakutat, Alaska, earned the tiny Gulf of Alaska town a spot on a National Geographic Traveler “bucket list” as a surfing destination – but nobody believes chilly hordes toting boards can cure Yakutat’s ailing economy. Waves, however, might still hold the key, by delivering it from sky-high electricity prices.
Yakutat, some 200 miles northwest of Juneau and accessible only by sea and air, relies on diesel generators to power its electrical system. The diesel arrives by barge from Anacortes, Washington, more than 1,100 miles away, an expensive journey that drives electricity prices to more than a half-dollar per kilowatt-hour—at least four times the national average. The high price of electricity, in turn, is