Obama Pushes Solar Power--In Arctic Town That Sees Little Sun in Winter

By Barbara Hollingsworth | September 3, 2015 | 4:13 PM EDT

Aerial photo of Kotzebue, Alaska, which is located 26 miles north of the Arctic Circle. (City of Kotzebue)

(CNSNews.com) – President Obama promoted solar energy to residents of Kotzebue, an Alaskan town located 26 miles north of the Arctic Circle that gets less than six hours of sunlight for 34 days in early December through early January.

“I know you guys have started putting up solar panels and wind turbines around Kotzebue. And because energy costs are pretty severe up here, for remote Alaskan communities, one of the biggest problems is high energy costs,” the president said in a speech he delivered during a three-day tour of the state in which he stressed the dangers of climate change.

“One of the reasons I came up here is to really focus on what is probably the biggest challenge our planet faces. If there’s one thing that threatens opportunity and prosperity for everybody, wherever we live, it’s the threat of a changing climate,” said Obama, the first president to venture north of the Arctic Circle.

“We are the number-one producer of oil and gas. But we’re transitioning away from energy that creates the carbon that’s warming the planet and threatening our health and our environment, and we’re going all in on clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar. And Alaska has the natural resources to be a global leader in this effort,” the president said. 

“So we’re going to deploy more new clean-energy projects on Native lands, and that’s going to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, promote new jobs and new growth in your communities,” he added.

Kotzebue – a town of about 3,000 residents that bills itself as the “Gateway to the Arctic” – is one of 15 major communities in Alaska’s Far North Region that are located north of the Arctic Circle, according to TravelAlaska.com, the state’s official tourism agency.

The Arctic Circle is the boundary for the “midnight sun”, a phenomenon caused by the tilt in the Earth’s axis in which the sun does not set in the summer or conversely rise in the winter.

On December 22, the winter solstice, the sun rises in Kotzebue at 10:12 am and sets at 3:42 pm – for a total of just five and a half hours of sunlight.  During the 34 days between December 3rd and January 6th, Kotzebue’s days are less than six hours long.

In Barrow, the northernmost town in Alaska which is located 330 miles north of the Arctic Circle, there are 67 winter days in which the sun does not shine at all, according to Alaska.org.

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