The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

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The annual Blessing of the Bikes was postponed from its scheduled time Monday after weather concerns caused its sponsors at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church to table the event. A trio of bikers took the opportunity to gather at the museum’s parking lot anyway, taking advantage of the sunshine.

AVVs Palomar goes on sabbatical

Rowena Palomar, executive director of Advocates for Victims of Violence – AVV - was chosen to receive one of six statewide sabbaticals granted to leaders in Alaska’s non-profit sector by the Rasmuson Foundation.

“It’s time,” Palomar said in an interview Monday afternoon.

Teresa Felts will act in Palomar’s seat until she returns in late August.

The foundation, which supports numerous philanthropies in Alaska, looks for publicity for its grants like the one given to Palomar for her sabbatical, in order to encourage other executives in the nonprofit sector to apply for the program.

In a press release, the foundation said its 2013 Sabbatical Award recipients come from five communities across the state and include professionals in recreation and health and social services. After Palomar, recipients include Peggy Brown, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Juneau; Deborah Lyons, Sitka Trial Works, Sitka; Naomi Michalsen, Women in Safe Homes, Ketchikan; Larry Parker, Anchorage Community YMCA, Anchorage; and Amy Simpson, Program for Infants and Children, Anchorage.

Cleveland Volcano erupting

(AP) The Cleveland Volcano is undergoing a continuous low-level eruption following an explosion early Saturday morning, scientists from the Alaska Volcano Observatory and the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Satellites and cameras suggest low-level emissions of gas, steam and ash, scientists said, and satellites detected highly elevated surface temperatures at the summit. A faint plume of ash extended eastward below 15,000 feet (4,600 meters), but the Federal Aviation Administration said there were no flight restrictions as a result.

``Sudden explosions of blocks and ash are possible with little or no warning,'' scientists said. ``Ash clouds, if produced, could exceed 20,000 feet above sea level.''

The aviation alert level was raised from ``yellow'' to ``orange.'' A major ash emission could threaten international flights. The activity began with an explosion at 5 a.m. Saturday, followed by two others at 9:17 and 11:44 a.m. A nearby seismic network detected long-duration airwave signals that indicate a sustained eruption.

The volcano is in an isolated region of the Aleutian Islands, 940 miles (1,500 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage. Its most recent significant eruption began in February 2001 and featured three explosive events that sent ash clouds as high 39,000 feet (12,000 meters) above sea level. It also produced a rubbly lava flow and hot avalanche that reached the sea.

The most recent minor ash emissions were observed in November 2012.

Biomass generators lukewarm results

(AP) Experimental biomass-burning generators aren't working out as lucratively and efficiently as a Fairbanks area businessman had hoped when he launched the idea to turn waste paper into electricity more than two years ago.

Bernie Karl's project is costing more and generating less revenue than he figured it would, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner ( ).

Karl's biomass-burning system at his K&K Recycling is, indeed, making electricity out of garbage, but nothing about the endeavor has been easy, Karl said.

``There is no game book. There is no blueprint,'' he said. ``We're making it up as we go.''

However, he plans to push ahead with the nearly $6 million project, even though his dreams of using the generators as a cheap power source for rural Alaska villages have been abandoned.

Karl hopes to see enough revenue streams come together to make it all work by the end of the year, despite mounting debt and countless challenges.

In late 2010, K&K Recycling began a new recycling program to collect items like mixed paper, plastic and glass from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and military installations in the area.

The paper is shredded and formed into large pellets, then fed into biomass-burning generators. A business partner, Connecticut-based United Technologies, developed the experimental system with Karl.

The payoff was expected to come from sales of electricity to Golden Valley Electric Association, but the new biomass-burning system has fallen short of its potential.

Valdez Star file photo

Rowena Palomar, right, has received a sabbatical from the Rasmuson Foundation. Palomar is the executive director of AVV and participated in many public events, such as the Torch Run.

With a nearly $2 million grant from the Alaska Energy Authority, Karl reached a 20-year agreement with the utility to sell electricity at a discount.

The generators provided power at about 38 percent of his target in 2012, according to Karl, and only three of its five units have been fired up while he learns how to improve the system.

Karl figures he's spending $100,000 per month on the project. He wasn't specific about revenues made from electricity sales to GVEA but said it's not nearly enough to cover his expenses.

The utility won't disclose the amount of electricity received from the operation in the past year, citing its privacy policy for producers and consumers. GVEA official Dave Gardner, however, said the flow has been sporadic.

Karl also owns Chena Hot Springs Resort, which is powered by electricity from geothermal resources. Much of that technology also was unproven when it was installed, and Karl hopes his biomass system follow a similar path.


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