Alaskan City Goes Green—by Necessity

After avalanche, Juneau is forced to find ways to use less energy
By Neil Turitz,  Newser User
Posted May 14, 2008 7:11 PM CDT
Sarah Lewis warms bread and boils corn on the wood stove in her living room for a barbeque while friends gather in the kitchen by candle Monday, April 28, 2008, in Juneau, Alaska.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – An energy conservation effort born out of necessity has turned the residents of Juneau, Alaska, into poster children for the green movement, the New York Times reports. Electricity rates skyrocketed 400% after an avalanche knocked out several major transmission towers last month; the state capital has since lowered its electricity usage by more than 30%, a figure that makes conservationists swoon.

While the city of 31,000 is proud of its cutbacks—conservation efforts include shuttering the public sauna—Juneau's green moment is doing something larger: casting a positive light on a remote locale under what Mayor Bruce Botelho calls "the perennial threat of having the capital relocated." Interest from environmental start-ups could bring an economic boost to this former gold rush town now buoyed by tourism and state government.