Murkowski hears from Cordova industry leaders at D.C. meeting

Last week Cordova area industry leaders met with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, in part to plan a community visit by the senator to Cordova to showcase innovation and collaboration.

It was a standard constituent visit in the senator’s Washington D.C. office, and was a joint effort between the Prince William Sound Science Center (PWSSC) and the Cordova Electric Cooperative (CEC).

Clay Koplin, former mayor and the CEO of CEC, showcased to the senator the electric company’s 100% underground power lines, transition to almost 80% renewable energy each year, and the interactive and transactive grid built to improve overall efficiency and reduce costs.

He described the meeting with Murkowski as “wildly successful.”

“Senator Murkowski is an avid fan of Alaska success stories and works hard to make them happen and then share them both inside and outside the state to improve Alaska’s future, and this meeting was no exception,” said Koplin. “As usual she got excited and asked a lot of questions and developed a context, then shared her vision for how she would like to frame the meeting in Cordova for highest impact.”

Koplin said they hoped to convey that coming out of the pandemic, Cordova has worked to expand innovation and collaboration — specifically highlighting continued investments in new productions by seafood processors, telecom and energy infrastructure, and innovations in tourism and local business development.


Additionally, Koplin said that while Cordova’s successes are the result of local changemakers and community work, the external support and advocacy Murkowski can provide is critical. He said it “adds fuel to the fire and helps inspire even greater outcomes.” Koplin said that Murkowski’s involvement can bring more investment and interest to the region, as well as inspire innovation throughout Alaska’s communities.

“So often there is too much focus on what is broken and needs fixed, and not enough on what is working and how to make it work better,” Koplin said. “Cordova, as a community, has a history of being knocked down and getting right back up jumping back into the fray, often repositioning or reinventing herself to rise to new heights.”

Katrina Hoffman, the president and CEO of PWSSC and executive director of the Oil Spill Recovery Institute, met with both Sens. Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, as well as members of Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola’s staff. Hoffman said she discussed the new PWSSC campus, their capabilities, new initiatives they are pursuing, and how they could put focused federal resources to use.

Hoffman said that PWSSC, CEC and other leaders in Cordova have been discussing how to amplify the community’s resilience.

“Cordova is a community full of entrepreneurs and folks who like to get things done,” Hoffman said. “We’ve been a leader in energy innovations, among other things, for some time now. In many ways, our community is a model community when it comes to partnerships, collaborations, and innovative approaches to things. We’re also subject to the challenges, solutions, and opportunities that coastal communities in Alaska and elsewhere are facing. We are poised to advance initiatives that help make our community more resilient.”

Cordova has garnered national and international attention for developments in its energy sector, including outreach with the U.S. State Department to Greenland and Arctic Eastern and Western Canada; through work with Hitachi Energy battery energy storage; and presentations to the World Energy Council and Pacific Power Associations.

In June 2017, Murkowski also held a U.S. Senate field hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in Cordova.

“This is a place where technologies and approaches can be implemented, tested, and improved upon, and our community is ripe to benefit from some of the federal funding opportunities coming down the pike as it pertains to infrastructure, energy, research, and more,” Hoffman said.