Sophie Minich, CIRI president and chief executive officer
This issue of Raven’s Circle features coverage of President Obama’s recent trip to Alaska to promote action to combat climate change. CIRI was honored to welcome the president to our region. Three days of beautiful weather allowed President Obama to see the best Alaska has to offer.
CIRI is acutely aware of the concerns facing our state, the nation and the world as we all face climate change. We have taken several measures and made significant investments to reduce our reliance on carbon emissions. At the same time, we realize that there are potential economic consequences to the policy decisions made by our government.
Those of you who read the Alaska Dispatch News on the day the president arrived may have seen CIRI’s open letter to the president. It outlined the ways in which CIRI has actively pursued energy-related investments.
Above all, CIRI’s investment strategy is targeted at fulfilling our company’s mission – to promote the economic and social well-being of our shareholders for generations to come. We invest in the latest technologies and finance strategies to harness the power of renewable energy, which creates jobs and generates profits for shareholders. But that’s not the only reason CIRI chooses to invest in renewable energy. For centuries, Alaska Native people have thrived in harmony with the land. Our ancestors have been stewards of the land, harvesting its plants and animals, managing its resources, learning from it and growing with it. As an Alaska Native company, we recognize that we have a duty to continue responsible stewardship of CIRI lands so that future generations of shareholders and descendants not only profit from our investments, but continue to practice the customs and cultures of generations before them.
No matter your political beliefs, we can all agree that good stewardship of our lands is essential to CIRI’s future success. Like the president, we believe that an all-of-the-above energy policy serves our community and shareholders best. That’s why CIRI has invested in projects like Fire Island Wind, which delivers carbon-free energy to power roughly 6,500 Anchorage homes. At the same time, we lease CIRI lands for responsible oil and gas exploration in the Cook Inlet area.
Energy efficiency is another technique to combat climate change. It also happens to be one of the most effective methods of saving money. For those reasons and more, when CIRI built its new Fireweed Business Center, we employed the latest innovations in energy-efficient design to reduce our carbon footprint. Building systems in CIRI’s new headquarters use less electricity, water and natural gas. Adding a large array of solar panels will allow us to harvest solar energy to supplement those systems. Soon, the Fireweed Business Center will earn a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, thanks to CIRI’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
When the president visited our state, we recognized a commonality between his climate change agenda and our commitment to preserving the land and environment for future generations. So, as our region’s first major independent power producer, we’ll continue to explore other ways to produce energy with minimal impact on the land and our environment – and we’ll work with President Obama and his administration as we bring new energy and opportunities to CIRI shareholders and the people of our region.
On a related note, I would like to congratulate Cook Inlet Housing Authority on being designated by President Obama as one of six organizations to participate in the ArtPlace American Community Development Investments program. You can read more about this national program in this issue of the Raven’s Circle.