House Bill 143 – which passed the House in March and the Senate on Sunday – authorizes the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to issue up to $120 million in conduit issuance bonds to finance Juneau Hydropower’s hydrolectric project at Sweetheart Lake. In addition to supplying power to Kensington Mine, the project also includes a district heating system for downtown Juneau.
After having read about Juneau Hydropower’s plans, the Danish District Energy Alliance, a member of the Danish Trade Council of North America, gave a presentation Friday to the legislature on the history and current operation of Denmark’s successful district heating systems.
News of the North spoke with Danish District Energy Alliance Senior Advisor Jakob Bjerregaard.
“Basically, we’ve had district energy in Denmark for 130 years or something like that.” said Bjerregaard. “We’ve developed it quite heavily, and now we’re trying to bring these world class solutions to North America, basically.”
He also explained what benefits Juneau citizens could expect following the new heating system’s implementation.
“There’s quite a few. Of course, you’d expect the heat cost to go down because oil’s pretty expensive. There’s the convenience of not having to maintain an oil boiler and those things. The air quality in the city will be better, and the general economic development in the city; you will basically keep the money in the community instead of sending it to oil companies outside of the city and the state.”
We asked Jakob what prompted the alliance to assist Juneau’s development.
“We’ve had an eye on Alaska for a while and then this popped up. We researched it a bit, and it seems like it’s a really good solution for society. There’s a lot of things coming together that we don’t see in a lot of other places in North America. This is really a good opportunity.”
Danish District Energy Alliance is willing to partner with other communities in Alaska to assist with installing or improving district energy heating systems.
“There’s already some district energy systems in Alaska,” Jakob explained. “They’re a little bit more “old-school,” you could say; they are steam-based, whereas we are trying to bring a more modern hot water based solution to the state. I think we’ll find some more projects up here, definitely.”
To close the interview, Bjerregaard was asked if there was anything that he would like to emphasize.
“I think it’s important to understand that, in Denmark, we have seen this as an opportunity to really use the resources that we have locally and nationally. I think that’s the same way that you should look at it in Juneau and Alaska; what are the resources available, and how do you make the most of that? You’ll have hydropower here in excess, and you have the seawater as a great resource for extracting heat to deliver with the district heating system. It’s just a really great use of the resources that you have.”
According to an interview that took place during an episode of Action Line that aired in March of this year, Juneau Hydropower Executive Director Duff Mitchell stated, “the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced then that they believe our EIS and license will be issued in July.”
Source: New of the North, Juneau Radio