Well, another Fourth of July came and went. Every year we can count on watching captivating fireworks and celebrating America’s independence.
And while we’re celebrating our independence, wouldn’t it be great if Alaskans could be independent of studies with clever acronyms that advocate for multi-billion dollar projects that will end up bringing way higher costs to our kids and to their kids.
The Alaska Stand Alone Gas Pipeline (ASAP) study, released on Tuesday, had Alaskan lawmakers happily considering the idea of an in-state natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Southcentral. But the project comes with a hefty price tag: $7.5 billion (in 2011 dollars), with an uncertainty range of ± 30%! The report states that the 24-inch pipeline will run 737 miles and could be up and running by 2019. The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly voted last year to fight any construction scenarios that bypassed Fairbanks, and because the study claims Fairbanks will be supported through a feeder line the frustration seed in Fairbanks residents has begun to sprout. However, there is one thing that Fairbanks’s residents can’t grumble about – the study reports that the line could deliver natural gas at less than one-half the current price. Before moving too quickly on the project, Alaskans should ask how an in-state pipeline fits into the state’s overall energy picture. A few questions to consider include:
- What about a large diameter gas pipeline?
- What about the new gas found in Cook Inlet?
- What about the recent proposal to start importing liquefied natural gas?
- How does this affect the Sustina Hydroelectric Project?
- How does this affect renewable and energy efficiency projects?
Meanwhile, legislature has appropriated $28 million for further engineering and it’s expected that an additional $130 million will be needed in order for the Legislature to make a final decision.
The cleverly-named ASAP study will soon be joined by a $500,000 study and an analysis of natural gas distribution options. The Fairbanks Borough hopes to have the study completed by this fall to help inform voters, by the October election, on the feasibility of trucking in liquefied natural gas. Earlier this year, an environmental consultant stated that if 13,000 buildings in Fairbanks switched to natural gas for space heating it would eliminate a majority of the air pollution concerns.
Deja vu: This week there is talk about another special legislative session! This one would be to address the ASAP report and to explore the idea of an in-state pipeline. Former state Representative Jay Ramras is even pushing the idea of convening a special session in his TV ads! Despite the current pressure, the Governor has no plans to call legislators back to Juneau.
On another energy note, the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) released the Request for Applications (RFA) for Round V funding from the Renewable Energy Fund. Under guidance from the Renewable Energy Fund Advisory Committee, AEA is actively soliciting applications for heating projects, including heat recovery, biomass, ground source heat pumps, and direct-geothermal use. To learn more, click HERE.