Alaska might not be an obvious choice for solar, but it’s warming up to the idea, installing more than $1 million of solar energy in 2014. Although Alaska enjoys only 61 full days of sunshine each year, the state is awash in sunlight during the summer months. Remote settlements dot the state, so both small-scale solar installations and innovations tied to power storage hold great potential. See why switching to solar panels in Alaska can both protect the environment and lower electric bills – plus find local installers and money-saving incentives.

Alaska’s Solar
Report Card

Grade
Methodology

To determine a grade for each state, our researchers and solar experts analyzed data on crucial solar-advancement criteria from the following sources:

We determined a rank from 1 to 10 for each state in each category. We then combined the scores with the following weights and assigned an overall grade for each state. Our goal is to encourage those considering solar for their homes to get a basic understanding of solar potential in their areas and discover the best opportunities for clean energy available.

Incentives & Rebates, 40%

Electricity Rate, 15%

Renewable Energy Policy, 30%

Interconnection Ease, 5%

Photovoltaic Potential, 10%

Electricity Costs in Alaska: State Comparison

At more than $.20/kWh, Alaska’s average residential electricity prices are the second highest in the country behind Hawaii and well above the national average of $.129/kWh. But it’s important to note that rates vary greatly across this vast state, with the very high rates paid by rural, remote Alaskan villages skewing the state average up. Residents in Alaska’s populous “Railbelt” region (Homer to Fairbanks) pay far more reasonable electricity rates. Alaskans get their power from a variety of sources, including wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and in the rural areas, diesel electric generators, according to U.S. Energy Information Agency. In spite of Alaska’s high latitude, solar energy, including hot water and photovoltaic panels, can be found in off-grid systems in remote parts of the state.

Cost of Residential Electricity

Data from U.S. Energy Information Administration
*as of Q3 2015

Alaska
Solar Resource Library

Alaska’s Solar Policies & Incentives

Despite having no Renewable Portfolio Standards and no rebates, Alaska does offer statewide net metering standards. Fortunately for Alaskans, all of the surplus energy produced carries over to subsequent months and never expires. This means that during the summer, when Alaskans enjoy lengthy days, their solar systems can rack up credits to use during the low-light winter months.

REBATES/INCENTIVES

Golden Valley Electric Association – Sustainable Natural Alternative Power (SNAP) Program

To encourage member residents and commercial entities to install renewable energy systems, the Golden Valley Electric Association offers an incentive of up to $1.50/kWh. The incentive amount is based on contributions, and for now is far below the $1.50 cap. In order to be eligible, the system must be 25 kW or less.

None for residential specifically

Alternative Energy Conservation Loan Fund

The Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development provides loans for businesses to install or purchase alternative energy systems in commercial buildings. Applicants can borrow up to $50,000 and must reside in Alaska for at least one year prior to submitting an application.

POLICIES

Solar Easements

In 2015, the Alaska State Legislature passed a law that allows commercial and residential landowners to enter a contract that ensures adequate exposure to the state’s solar energy system.

Interconnection Guidelines

In May 2011, the Regulatory Commission of Alaska passed interconnection guidelines that allow residential and commercial utility customers to be charged liability insurance for energy equipment—like converters, controllers, and converters—provided that the cost is reasonable.

Net Metering

Homeowners and commercial properties with renewable energy systems that have a capacity of 25 kilowatts or less can receive a credit for creating more energy than they consume. Every month, utilities compare a customer’s energy consumption against energy generation and will either issue a credit or a bill depending on which is higher.

None for residential specifically

None for commercial specifically

TAX CREDITS

None

None for residential specifically

None for commercial specifically

EXEMPTIONS

None

Local Option Property Tax Exemption

Local governments are authorized to exempt residential renewable energy systems from property taxation if they choose to do so.

None for commercial specifically

Solar Panels in Alaska: Contractors & Installers

There are about 12 companies with about 100 employees working in the solar industry in Alaska. Nearly all of the businesses handle solar projects throughout the state. The companies include distributors and installers. Here are some companies who handle residential solar installations:

ABS Alaskan

Through a robust online store as well as two distribution centers, ABS Alaskan provides quality photovoltaic products and batteries, as well as design and technical expertise.

Where it operatesFairbanks, AK; Anchorage, AK; and Renton, WA

Year of opening1988

Arctic Sun

Arctic Sun’s mission is to provide solutions to high energy costs through innovative, renewable energy systems. They provide solar energy systems to Alaskans statewide.

Where it operatesFairbanks, AK

Year of opening2011

Lime Solar

Lime Solar provides on- and off-grid solar power kits, solar panels and other hardware needed for installation. The company offers site surveys, design, engineering and support.

Where it operatesAnchorage, AK

Year of opening2012

Remote Power Inc.

Industrial, commercial and residential solar energy solutions are available at Remote Power. The company distributes products from every major solar energy brand along with its own designs for on- and off-grid systems.

Where it operatesFairbanks, AK

Year of opening1999

Renewable Energy Systems

Renewable Energy Systems designs and installs new solar energy systems for customers, including those in extreme climates. They also evaluate existing systems, provide support and maintenance, upgrade systems and offer educational classes.

Where it operatesAnchorage, AK

Year of opening2006

Susitna Energy

Renewable energy solutions are the focus on Sustina Energy. Along with other renewable energy options, the company offers solar panels and mounts for on- and off-grid systems.

Where it operatesAnchorage, AK

Wolf Solar Electric

Wolf Solar Electric specializes in wind and solar power. They are certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners and provide customers with site survey and solar system installation services.

Where it operatesTok, AK

Year of opening2006

Additional Resources for Going Solar in Alaska

Alaska Regulatory Commission

Find out about the governing body that regulates electricity and rates by Alaska’s public utilities and find information on pending actions and upcoming public hearings.

Alaska State Energy Authority

Explore a range of information on the state’s energy programs, such as the Alaska Renewable Energy and the Emerging Energy Technology funds, as well as energy-saving strategies and data.

Alaska State Legislature

Search for and follow pending legislation affecting solar energy, contact individual legislators, and stay current on a variety of legislative issues in the state.

DSIRE Incentives Database – Alaska

Search a public database to find solar incentives specific to Alaska homes and businesses and across the United States.

U.S. Energy Information Administration – Alaska

Find U.S. government energy data on Alaska’s electricity supply and demand as well as the potential for growth.

Renewable Energy Alaska

Find out about Alaska’s renewable energy resources and projects from a coalition of utilities, businesses, conservation groups, Alaska Native organizations and government agencies.

Alaska Center for Energy and Power

Keep up with Alaska-based research on energy, including renewables, at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Alaska Energy Wiki

Explore a free online collaborative energy website created by the Alaska Center for Energy and Power and geared toward helping readers understand Alaska’s unique and diverse energy needs.