Intern Explores Hydropower as Energy Solution for Northwest Arctic Villages

Intern Explores Hydropower as Energy Solution for Northwest Arctic Villages

he villages of Ambler, Shungnak and Kobuk have some of the highest energy costs in Alaska and the U.S. With heating fuel prices hitting $14 a gallon in Shungnak recently, the urgency to alleviate dependency on diesel fuel has never been greater. 

Cam Twarog, a senior studying electrical engineering at Stanford University, is working with Mari Shirazi of ACEP and Ingemar Mathiasson of the Northwest Arctic Borough on modeling potential to connect hydropower to the villages using a medium-voltage direct current network. 

The modeling could help lead to a new run-of-river hydroelectric project, MVDC interconnect and increased use of air-source heat pumps. These changes would reduce reliance on flown-in diesel fuel and could ultimately reduce electricity and heating costs. 

Like many of ACEP’s interns, Twarog has had valuable face-to-face interactions with community leaders and project stakeholders, which has brought a deeper sense of connection to his research. 

“It’s been exciting to work with community leaders in the Northwest Arctic Borough in order to model infrastructure improvements that could improve quality of life, energy reliability and, well, lower costs for people living in these villages,” said Twarog.

Twarog grew up in Keene, New Hampshire, before attending school in California. After he graduates in 2023, he hopes to attend graduate school to further study power electronics and controls and then to return to New England or Alaska to continue working on rural energy projects. In his free time, he enjoys running, biking and playing violin.

The ACEP Undergraduate Student Internship program is generously funded by a grant from the Office of Naval Research.

For more information on the AUSI program and the various projects, please visit


Cam Twarog is an electrical engineering student at Stanford University and an intern at ACEP. Photo by Jeff Fisher.