New portal ‘democratizes’ Alaska energy data

by Jamie Gonzales  |   

Wind Farm AlaskaIt's been a warmer than usual fall in Alaska. In fact, Alaskans are pretty much comfortable referring to late October as Winter with a capital-W, so we're a little late cranking up thermostats this year and haven't yet gotten those cringe-worthy winter utility and fuel bills. Our brains aren't there yet.

The folks at the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), however, never stop thinking about Alaska's energy production and energy costs. For more than three years, they've been working with agency and community partners to corral the state's energy numbers so they'll be accessible to researchers and community members through a single portal, the Alaska Energy Data Gateway.

On Oct. 25, ISER announced the launch of the new site and invited stakeholders and the curious to take a look. They're busy behind the scenes enhancing accessibility for those who may not be as spreadsheet and data savvy, cautions Ginny Fay, ISER assistant professor of economics.

"We're still in the process of programming the site for community summaries," Fay says. "Those will be available in the next couple weeks or so."

The comprehensive energy data portal is an important resource for researchers, project developers, agencies and communities throughout the state who want to make informed decisions about energy consumption and meeting Alaska's needs in the future. What's working? What's not? Plug in your query and get the numbers that will help you determine if it's cost effective to develop plans for renewable energy production.

Having well-documented, searchable data available is going to help justify those decisions that could lower energy costs for Alaskans.

"It's a democratization of data," says Fay. "More people can access data for planning and research."

Currently in the second and final phase of the project, Fay and her colleagues have plans for ongoing growth and maintenance of the site. They are also soliciting user input for ways to enhance and improve the site.

Funding for this public resource comes from a Department of Energy EPSCoR grant. Key partners include Alaska Center for Energy and Power, Alaska Energy Authority and Arctic Region Supercomputing Center. Learn more here.

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