FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Next Tuesday citizens will not only vote for Borough Assembly members, as well as the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board and City Council, but they will also be casting their vote for two available seats on the Interior Gas Utility Board of Directors. Amanda Brennan sat down with three of the I-G-U board candidates to discuss their campaigns.
The Interior Gas Utility, or IGU, is not as well known to Fairbanks citizens, as the Golden Valley Electric Association, but it is no less significant. The IGU was created as a public utility by the FNSB, with the primary objective to provide low cost, clean burning, natural gas to the borough. Although, the first delivery of natural gas was back in 1998, there is only a small percentage of residents and businesses that utilize the cleaner burning fossil fuel. If the IGU completes the acquisition of Pentex, the parent company of Fairbanks Natural Gas, then the public utility will be able to expedite the infrastructure needed to deliver natural gas to a greater number of residents. Patrice Lee, Jeff Rentzel, and Scott Eickholt are all running for seat D for the IGU Board. Although, they have different backgrounds, they all had the same purpose for running for office.
>>Patrice Lee; IGU Seat D Candidate: "I want to see affordable gas come to Fairbanks. People who have had gas lines brought out to them for them to be connected and or for the larger borough to be able to have access to that affordable energy."
>>Jeff Rentzel; IGU Seat D Candidate: "There has been quite a bit of inactivity on this board. It was created back in 2012, dedicated to bringing natural gas to the Fairbanks North Star Borough, however, that still hasn't happened."
>>Scott Eickholt; IGU Seat D Candidate:
"Primarily I want to see this project come to completion."
Lee is a retired teacher and 40 year resident of the borough who has had experience raising funds for organizations, such as the Fairbanks Youth Orchestra, in order to afford improvements. Lee discusses how her involvement in the Fox Spring Water Task Force gave her the ability to see a problem and find a solution.
"When we wanted to make sure the Fox Spring did not close down, we organized the petition and the Fox Water Task Force, and that resulted in the formation of the Friends of Fox Springs, and the wonderful MOA with the DOT, and the water is still flowing. We raised the money. So I believe we can bring affordable energy to Fairbanks. I know we can do it."
Rentzel is retired and now works part time at the Fairbanks Youth Facility as a Juvenile Justice Officer in a counselor role. He says working with troubled children and teens has given him a certain skill set to deal with difficult subjects and confrontations - a skill set that can be utilized on the IGU Board. He discusses why people should vote for him.
"Vote for me because I am willing to work and do whatever it takes to get this job done. It has been a long time coming and I think that the people of this Fairbanks North Star Borough deserve to have an alternate source of heating, fuel, and clean air."
Eickholt is running for seat D as a voice for the construction industry. His experience in the Oil and Gas industries, as well as almost a decade working with the Laborers Union has prepped him with the knowledge of contracts, as well as the needs of the contractors. He discusses how he can bring value to the IGU Board.
"My involvement with the industry itself, with the local contractors, understanding what their needs are to make sure that we're seeing our neighbors go to work, I would say knowing and interpreting contracts, the bidding system, all those kind of things I think I have enough experience in that I would bring good value to the board."
Whoever is chosen for Seat D will belong to a board of directors who will have a significant impact on how Fairbanksans heat their homes and businesses. To learn more about the Interior Gas Utility, and the role of its board of directors, go to interiorgas.org.
Amanda Brennan reporting.