Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

15 major markets, but many of the 200 isolated communities also are remote from the state’s population centers and central road system, making shipping construction materials and equipment costly. Often, the undeveloped terrain of Alaska is also difficult to build on both because of the conditions created bymelting permafrost and the special equipment that must be brought in by barge and helicopters. As an example, far from themainland, the Nikolski wind turbine required a hydraulic winch to lever the turbine into place because a crane could not be used (Musselman, 2021). Remoteness can be a deterrent when considering where and how to develop energy resources. Additionally, if the intention for renewable energy is transmission into an electrical grid, remote areas, although rich in renewable resources, are less attractive options. The remoteness of many Alaskan communities is compounded by a limited road system. There are 5609 miles of highway, of which 3737 are paved and maintained by the Alaska Department of Transportation. These roads serve mainly to connect Anchorage to other population hubs and Alaska to the lower 48 states through Canada. The 414-mile Dalton Highway is the only road that connects the North Slope and its oil fields to the rest of the state. Intensifying the situation, melting permafrost also causes significant “frost-heaving,” creating substantial cavities and bumps that affect much of the road system, including the Dalton Highway (American Society of Civil Engineers, 2021). When this highway requires maintenance or experiences a weather-related shutdown, the economy suffers, making it an important, vulnerable, and weak piece of infrastructure in Alaska. Even though roads fail to reach many areas of the state and therefore cannot support remote developments, accessing resources far from the road system is not impossible and simply requires a more expensive method. Choosing where to develop renewable energy resources must involve paying close attention to the road system and how it can best be used to serve a potential project. Applications of Renewable Energy in Alaska Another aspect of identifying viable locations for electricity generated from renewable sources is determining how and where that electricity can be used. There are three clear options, the first of which is transmission of the electricity into the Alaskan electrical grid. This option presents its own challenges relating to the remoteness and undeveloped nature of the land. The second option is to build a large-scale, high-energy use for the electricity produced on-site. This would require a private or government partner interested in utilizing renewable energy for an application that would generate profit and benefit Alaska’s economy. The third option is creating power production systems to support the 200 small, remote communities in Alaska. Many communities are looking to switch to renewable energy, if they have not already, to offset the high cost of diesel fuel. Depending on the location of interest for a renewable energy power plant and possible sources of funding, all three options may be advantageous. Building a Transmission Line for Renewable Energy: The Swan-Tyee Case Study Transmission of renewable energy has been successful in the past and, therefore, should be examined when considering this option. The Swan-Tyee transmission line system, located in the Southeastern Panhandle, was built to carry electricity from two hydroelectric power plants, one at Swan Lake and one at Tyee Lake. Initially catalyzed by the Energy Program for Alaska initiative and with funding from state oil revenues, hydroelectric power plants are now numerous in the area. Swan Lake power serves Ketchikan, with Tyee Lake power serving Wrangell and Petersburg, using a transmission line that includes a series of submarine cable crossings. This transmission line system required significant planning; the first step was conducting a comprehensive environmental impact study to obtain an approved route, which ultimately was passed through Tongass National Forest. Tongass National Forest is federally owned and managed by the US Forest Service (USFS), therefore subject to strict regulatory protections. The USFS decided to not allow new road construction, so it was determined that transmission line construction would be done using floating work camps and helicopters (Carlson & Huffman, 2011).