Legislature(2011 - 2012)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
01/31/2012 03:30 PM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS
Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 154-NATURAL GAS CONVERSION PROGRAM/FUND CHAIR OLSON announced the consideration of SB 154. 3:34:43 PM SENATOR JOE THOMAS, SB 154 sponsor, said the bill would create a low interest loan program for Alaskan families to replace their oil, coal or wood home-heating appliances with natural gas fueled appliances. He said families would have the ability to plan ahead for low cost energy, knowing that when they do get access to natural gas in their neighborhoods or communities they will be able to afford to use it. He said the home heating change-out mechanism would create a more robust gas distribution system in Southcentral Alaska where gas is currently distributed. He said Fairbanks would be able to prepare for delivery of natural gas either by pipeline or truck. He said the Fairbanks Borough was studying the options and economics of expanding the current gas distribution system beyond the current 1100 customers to over 3500 customers in a relatively short period of time. He said he had a recent discussion with Fairbanks Natural Gas and was told that over 2000 homes in Fairbanks are within reach of the current pipeline infrastructure. He said heavier use of gas in Fairbanks would also assist the borough in complying with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) air quality mandate when 12,000 homes are converted to natural gas. 3:36:31 PM SENATOR THOMAS He said by implementing SB 154 and establishing the natural gas home heating conversion loan fund, upgrading to cleaner, cheaper gas will become affordable for more families, making any gas delivery project much more economic. He said the economy would be vitalized by job creation across the state and more money would circulate within Alaska rather than on energy expenditures. 3:37:52 PM GRIER HOPKINS, staff to Senator Thomas, said he was available for questions. CHAIR OLSON asked what the plans were for extending some of the services in Fairbanks. SENATOR THOMAS answered that Fairbanks Natural Gas would continue to address distribution logistics and infrastructure. He said Golden Valley Electric Association and Flint Hills Resources' North Pole Refinery could offer the Fairbanks market with excess natural gas from their Prudhoe Bay shipments. CHAIR OLSON asked if Fairbanks residents would pay higher taxes due to the added infrastructure costs. SENATOR THOMAS answered no. SENATOR WAGONER commented that SB 154 would benefit both Fairbanks and other areas in the state that have natural gas availability. CHAIR OLSON asked if Senator Wagoner's constituents were in favor of SB 154. SENATOR WAGONER replied that he did not know, but said he was in favor of SB 154. CHAIR OLSON commented that SB 154 had a large fiscal note and answers were required. 3:40:47 PM SENATOR WAGONER said money would come back to the state in future years. CHAIR OLSON asked how the money would come back to the state. SENATOR WAGONER answered that the money appropriated was a loan, not a grant. CHAIR OLSON asked about a return on investment at one percent interest. SENATOR THOMAS answered that the loans within the program are at one percent interest to be repaid over a ten-year period. SENATOR WAGONER confirmed that the loan is at one percent and the principle would be paid back. 3:41:20 PM SENATOR KOOKESH moved to report SB 154 from the committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). 3:41:33 PM CHAIR OLSON announced without objection, SB 154 moved from the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee.