Today, the Alaska State Senate unanimously passed legislation to provide energy relief for Alaskans by trucking liquefied natural gas (LNG) and propane from the North Slope to the Interior. Senate Bill 23 provides tools for the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) to put together a financing package to provide low interest loans to build an LNG facility on the North Slope and start building out a distribution system for natural gas in Fairbanks and surrounding communities.
“Right now, extremely high energy costs are crippling the economy in Fairbanks and the Interior. The staggering prices are driving away businesses and residents as they struggle to pay for heat and electricity,” said Senator Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks. “This project slashes energy costs which will trigger a ripple effect of boosting the economy while creating jobs. We have private businesses just waiting to invest in Fairbanks if this LNG trucking is a go. Also, getting gas will allow us to clear the air. Our PM 2.5 level is way too unhealthy, especially for young people and the elderly with respiratory problems. The sooner we get the gas, the better.”
The funding for the project would be through a combination of AIDEA bonds, general funds and natural gas storage credits passed last year by the Legislature.
“This bill not only helps Interior residents hurting from the high energy costs, it will also help rural Alaskans by providing cheaper propane to communities along the river and road systems,” said Senator John Coghill, R-North Pole. “It’s a win-win situation that provides the lowest cost energy to Interior Alaskans as soon as possible.”
The project is estimated to be up and running by mid-to-late 2015 and is expected to reduce the cost of heating in the Fairbanks area by about 40-percent for those who convert from fuel oil to natural gas.
“This bill cracks the code on energy relief. We’ve been talking for 50 years about a pipeline, but the 35 trillion cubic feet of gas up north seems to stay in the ground no matter what we say,” said Senator Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks. “Because of this bill, we can actually get gas from the Slope to a place where Alaskans can actually use it.”
Senate Bill 23 now heads to the House for further consideration.