Key recommendations of the report include:
- Encouraging rural utilities and communities to achieve economies of scale. While many utilities in rural Alaska have already joined larger public and private systems, communities and utilities should work with regional organizations in planning, management services, logistics, fuel purchases, and specialized technical services; and to attract and negotiate favorable terms from third-party service providers.
- Increasing the role of independent power producers and other third-party service providers. More rural utilities should explore avenues for working with independent power producers, which often bring access to new sources of capital, experience, innovative technologies, and an opportunity for lower costs. Third-party service providers have already made a difference in many communities and can help with specialized needs including advanced customer meters, managing budgets, logistics, engineering, bookkeeping, and other services.
- Encouraging investment in rural workforce development. Workforce programs should be expanded to help rural utilities train and retain staff with expertise in billing and financial operations, grant and loan applications, capital planning, and operation of advanced hybrid renewable power systems.
- Improving accountability and aligning financial incentives with performance. More customer-focused reliability standards and incentives tied to performance would encourage utility management and community leaders to place a greater emphasis on the cost and quality of service utilities provide.