The U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Regulatory Assistance Project, set out to understand the current challenges and identify opportunities for rural utilities to move toward a more sustainable future. Throughout 2015, the team visited more than 30 communities across all regions of Alaska. The team met with local leaders and utility managers, and toured facilities—along the way gaining a strong sense of both the challenges and the potential in these communities.
This study examines reliability, capital and strategic planning, management, workforce development, governance, financial performance and system efficiency in the various communities visited by the research team. Using those attributes, a tier system was developed to categorize rural Alaska utilities into Leading and Innovating Systems (Tier I), Advanced Diesel Systems (Tier II), Basic Systems (Tier III), and Underperforming Systems (Tier IV). The tier approach is not meant to label specific utilities, but rather to provide a general set of benchmarks and guideposts for improvement.