Energy Update 7-27-11
After a week of vacation I’m happy to be back in Alaska. As I got back into the swing of things at the office I was eager to catch up on the local, state and national energy news hidden amongst the ‘important’ front page articles, such as people sitting on sidewalks and combat fishing in the Kenai.
Starting off with local energy news this week, let’s head to the little town of Healy. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has given a preliminary approval for the Eva Creek project, a 24.6 MW wind farm to be owned by Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA). The project, currently the largest proposed wind farm in Alaska, is expected to break ground in September 2012 and will sit on 43 acres near Healy. Eva Creek was not the only energy project being discussed this week.
On the state level, the conversation around the in-state gas line continued. On Monday, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce invited the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) to present on the Alaska Stand Alone Gas Pipeline Project (ASAP). President of AGDC, Dan Fauske, pulled out the scare tactics while urging the state to construct the 737-mile and $7.5 billion pipeline, “We’re going to be in our basements burning our Permanent Fund checks to stay warm, while all this gas is sitting out there.” Meanwhile, the Alaska Gasline Port Authority (AGPA) sees the in-state gas pipeline as a potential export component. However, pollster Dan Dittman expresses that Alaskans care less about exporting and more about creating local jobs and finding any solution to the energy crisis, be it a big line, a little line, the spur line or a hydroelectric project. A group of state legislators plan to meet in Anchorage next Monday to discuss the project’s potential. On a national level, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski spoke about the benefits of natural gas. On Wednesday she addressed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee stating that “greater use of natural gas would move our nation in the right direction in terms of energy security, economic growth and environmental protection.”
Also in the nation’s capitol, state representatives were discussing light bulbs. Yes, light bulbs. This week the Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB Act) failed to pass in the House. If passed, the BULB Act would repeal Subtitle B of Title III of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, meaning that the lighting efficiency standards outlined in 2007 would cease. The lighting efficiency standards enacted in 2007 simply require incandescent light bulbs to be 25 to 30 percent more efficient. It is important to note that the standards do not ban incandescent lighting. The 2007 standards were created to quickly increase development in efficient lighting technologies and to help consumers save money. If the 2007 standards stay in place, US families could save $100 and the nation could save as much as $12 billion annually. In addition, the standards would eliminate the need for 33 power plants nationwide! Of course, most conservationists oppose the BULB Act because it slows down America’s move toward more efficient technologies. Although the BULB Act didn’t pass this week, an amendment that prohibits spending to enforce the 2007 incandescent standards was passed. Proponents for the BULB Act claim that “people should have a right to decide what kind of light bulb they put in their own bedroom.”
If you thought the hype on the BULB Act was exciting then I’d suggest also following the progress of the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act. The SAVE Act would require federal loan agencies to assess the expected energy costs for mortgage loan applicants. The SAVE Act would greatly accelerate the supply and demand for energy-efficient homes, encourage the purchase of energy-efficient homes and create construction and manufacturing jobs. The bill has yet to be introduced in Congress, but is currently supported by a number of unusual partnerships including major builders and environmentalists. Energy-efficient housing is simply the right thing to do; just ask the Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks. The base is expected to construct a new housing development of 349 units which will be built to Leadership and Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards. If constructed, they will be the first homes built to the LEED Gold rating in Alaska.
I hope you reached your weekly dose of local, statewide and national energy news. I know I did!