Energy Update 4/4/2012
Spring is in the air in Alaska and with it comes the end of the 90-day legislative session. This year’s legislative session is set to adjourn on April 15th and Alaska legislators still have plenty of work to do- much of it on energy.
As we go into the final 2 weeks of session, the Senate has finally unveiled their version of oil tax plan. Introduced on Tuesday in the Senate Finance committee, this bill offers some substantial structural changes to the current ACES tax plan. The new proposal sets up different taxes for oil and gas production and attempts to encourage new production. Oil and gas company representatives will be invited to testify on the bill and the Senate hopes to push the bill over to the House as soon as possible. For more details on the Senate oil tax plan, click here.
Three bills attempting to provide relief for high energy costs in the Interior are also progressing through the Legislature. These bills would provide short term relief through home heating vouchers and would also provide credits for natural gas storage and exploration. Representative Steve Thompson and Senator Joe Thomas, both from Fairbanks, have been working to get versions of these bills passed in both the Senate and House. With less than two weeks left of the session, it is unsure whether the bills will make it through both entities in time.
At a lunch and learning session last week, legislators heard about energy efficiency from Jonathan Westeinde, founder of Windmill Development Group Ltd. While Alaska now requires that 25% of public buildings be 15% more efficient by 2020, according to Jonathan Westeinde, our goals might be too low. “Ten to 20 percent is the low hanging fruit. We should look at 40 to 50 percent” says Westeinde. Read more about his presentation by clicking here.
And finally, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) began holding scoping meetings last week on the proposed Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. Hearings were held in the Mat-Su Valley on March 27th and 28th and were well attended. The chief concern among residents was the impact to salmon. Residents are also concerned about moose browse, caribou populations and ice conditions that will be affected by the dam. The Alaska Energy Authority estimates the project costs at $4.5 billion and hopes to start operating in 2023.
Here are some upcoming events to put on your calendar:
April 19th-20th: 4th Annual Business of Clean Energy. For more info, go to http://www.BCEAconference.com.
April 23rd: Got HVAC? Join Green Star and CEA for free information workshop about energy efficiency and your HVAC. Click here for more info.