Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/20/2001 08:08 AM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HCR 1 - STATEWIDE COMP ENERGY PLAN TASK FORCE                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0062                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MEYER announced  that  the committee  would hear  HOUSE                                                               
CONCURRENT  RESOLUTION NO.  1, Relating  to  establishing a  Task                                                               
Force on a Statewide Comprehensive Energy Plan.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   ETHAN  BERKOWITZ,   Alaska  State   Legislature,                                                               
testified  as the  sponsor of  HCR 1.   Representative  Berkowitz                                                               
remarked that  HCR 1 deals with  a pressing issue that  the state                                                               
has  yet to  deal with.   This  proposal speaks  to the  issue of                                                               
energy for  Alaska.  Representative Berkowitz  noted the national                                                               
discussion  regarding  the  need  for  a  national  energy  plan.                                                               
Although most states have an energy  plan, Alaska does not have a                                                               
comprehensive  energy plan.   Representative  Berkowitz explained                                                               
that  HCR  1  attempts  to accelerate  and  consolidate  existing                                                               
proposals  and   perhaps  present   a  unified  package   to  the                                                               
congressional  delegation   in  order  to  obtain   resources  to                                                               
implement  parts of  a plan.   Representative  Berkowitz informed                                                               
the committee  that the Alaska Industrial  Development and Export                                                               
Authority  (AIDEA)  and  the   Denali  Commission  are  currently                                                               
working on  a rural  plan, which  may, over  the next  few years,                                                               
include other  parts of the  state.   However, there is  still no                                                               
overall  strategy   from  the   state  and   thus  Representative                                                               
Berkowitz  felt that  it  is encumbent  upon  the legislature  to                                                               
create such.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0274                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ expressed  the  need  to determine  the                                                               
needs of the state  not only in terms of money  but also in terms                                                               
of  energy.   This is  critical to  the economic  development and                                                               
quality  of life  that is  desired [in  Alaska].   He noted  that                                                               
there are  many interesting efforts  in the area of  energy, such                                                               
as the windmill  project in Kotzebue and the  fuel cell [project]                                                               
in Anchorage.   Fuel cells  are interesting because they  can use                                                               
natural gas and thus increase the demand for natural gas.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ remarked  that he is not  normally a fan                                                               
of resolutions  or task forces.   However, the objective  of [HCR
1] is to have  a cohesive plan for the future  and have access to                                                               
the resources to implement that plan.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0393                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MEYER noted that HCR 1 does not have a fiscal note.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  said there  should be  no cost  for the                                                               
task force.  He pointed out  that HCR 1 specifies that there will                                                               
be no  per diem [for  the members].   In further response  to Co-                                                               
Chair   Meyer,  Representative   Berkowitz  indicated   that  the                                                               
meetings would occur in Anchorage  and people would pay for their                                                               
own travel.   Representative Berkowitz  reiterated his  desire to                                                               
accelerate  some of  the ongoing  processes.   He noted  that the                                                               
task force does not include  [a representative from] AIDEA or the                                                               
Denali  Commission.   However, he  indicated  that perhaps  those                                                               
groups should be included.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MEYER asked if Representative  Berkowitz had spoken with                                                               
Robert Poe, Executive Director,  AIDEA, Department of Community &                                                               
Economic Development.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ answered  that he  has spoken  with Mr.                                                               
Poe and others  on the list and all are  very supportive of this.                                                               
However, he explained  that what he and those on  the list didn't                                                               
want is  to develop  a competing  project.   Rather, he  wants to                                                               
help any  ongoing [projects].   The  presence of  the legislature                                                               
and  [this] process  can help.    Representative Berkowitz  noted                                                               
that the Alaska Municipal League  (AML) is supportive of the plan                                                               
as  "it appears  that  the  task force  could  be  of benefit  in                                                               
steering  the  process and  ensuring  that  there's broad  public                                                               
participation."                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MEYER expressed  concern  with the  [lack  of a  fiscal                                                               
note] because  he believes that  any committee of  this magnitude                                                               
and diversity will  have some expenses.   Therefore, he indicated                                                               
that there may  be the need to add something  to the fiscal note,                                                               
even if it is merely for adminstrative support.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MEYER  then  turned  to  the  committee  packet,  which                                                               
includes  Iowa's  energy  plan.     He  asked  if  Representative                                                               
Berkowitz intended on using that plan [as a model] for Alaska.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  answered that  he didn't  have anything                                                               
in particular  in mind.   He informed  the committee that  he has                                                               
energy plans  from many  other states.   Although the  plans have                                                               
similarities,  there are  differences in  regard to  each state's                                                               
individual  needs.   He expected  that Alaska  would have  unique                                                               
needs.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0650                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SCALZI related  his understanding  that the  task                                                               
force would implement its own plan based on the evidence.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ replied  yes and  added that  [the task                                                               
force would act]  on the research that is already  available.  He                                                               
reiterated  his desire  to bring  together those  [working on]  a                                                               
project   or   plan   in   order    to   review   [this   matter]                                                               
comprehensively.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SCALZI, again, related  his understanding that the                                                               
task force would have the latitude to come up with a plan.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ replied yes.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Numbe 0762                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HALCRO referred  to  page 2,  lines 21-22,  which                                                               
specifies that  the task  force will not  be responsible  for any                                                               
travel  expenses or  per diem.   Representative  Halcro expressed                                                               
the need  for the task force  to also be responsible  for finding                                                               
funding  mechanisms to  pay for  [the plan].   In  regard to  the                                                               
membership of  the task force, Representative  Halcro inquired as                                                               
to the reasoning behind the Alaska Trucking Association member.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ  specified  that  the  Alaska  Trucking                                                               
Association member is viewed as  a [representative] of a consumer                                                               
group of energy.  He remarked  that he is not "married" to anyone                                                               
on  the  membership  list  of  the task  force.    In  regard  to                                                               
Representative Halcro's  suggestion that  the task force  also be                                                               
responsible for finding  funding mechanisms to pay  for the plan,                                                               
Representative  Berkowitz  said  he   viewed  the  suggestion  as                                                               
friendly.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0904                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GUESS inquired  as to  who would  chair the  task                                                               
force.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ explained  that  normally  such a  task                                                               
force would be  chaired by the legislators and  their staff would                                                               
[provide support  for the task  force].   However, Representative                                                               
Berkowitz expressed the need to  remain flexible so that the task                                                               
force can make such determinations.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GUESS  indicated  agreement that  AIDEA  and  the                                                               
Denali  Commission   should  be   included  in  the   task  force                                                               
membership.  She  also expressed the need to  include the general                                                               
business community as a member of the task force.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  remarked that the task  force, [if more                                                               
and more members were added] could become unwieldy.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0992                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MORGAN related  his view  that the  focus of  this task                                                               
force will be geared toward  rural Alaska, where energy costs are                                                               
high.  He asked if that assessment would be correct.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ answered  that  there will  be a  large                                                               
focus on rural Alaska.  He  pointed out that the committee packet                                                               
includes  the  draft assessment  for  rural  Alaska developed  by                                                               
AIDEA  and  the  Denali   Commission.    However,  Representative                                                               
Berkowitz  expressed the  need to  move from  the point  at which                                                               
things are  broken down between  rural and urban.   For instance,                                                               
whatever  route is  taken, the  gas pipeline  will help  with the                                                               
energy  needs  of  both  rural  and  urban  Alaska.    Therefore,                                                               
determining  optimal mechanisms  for that  should be  done before                                                               
construction  begins.    Furthermore,   the  state  needs  to  be                                                               
actively  involved  in  the process.    Representative  Berkowitz                                                               
said, "You need to  know what you want before you  can get it and                                                               
this  is going  to  help us  assess  what we  want  as a  state."                                                               
Although  Representative Berkowitz  appreciated  the concern  for                                                               
rural Alaska,  he indicated the need  to use the task  force as a                                                               
way to bring the state  together to establish links between urban                                                               
and rural Alaska.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1120                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SCALZI turned  to  the  bibliograph of  statewide                                                               
energy  studies supplied  by  Legislative  Research Services  and                                                               
highlighted the  following titles:  "Alaska  Energy Strategy" and                                                               
"Alaska  Rural Energy  Initiative."   He asked  if Representative                                                               
Berkowitz had  reviewed any  of the  documents listed  because he                                                               
wondered if any of the listed  documents speak to what is desired                                                               
[with the inception of the task force].                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ specified  that no one has  done what is                                                               
being sought with the task force.   Even if someone has looked at                                                               
what  he is  hoping the  task force  will review,  it is  time to                                                               
update that information.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MEYER  noted  that  the  task  force  is  to  have  its                                                               
recommendations completed by January 19,  2002.  He asked if that                                                               
[timeframe  would allow  the  task force  to]  influence the  gas                                                               
pipeline.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said, "I don't know.  I hope it is."                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MEYER wondered if that [timeframe] would be too late.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   BERKOWITZ   acknowledged   that   U.S.   Senator                                                               
Murkowski has  been actively discussing  a national  energy plan.                                                               
Furthermore, U.S. Congressman Young,  Chair of the Transportation                                                               
Department,   and   U.S.   Senator   Stevens,   Member   of   the                                                               
Appropriations [Committee],  [hold positions that  could possibly                                                               
help  with  this  issue].   Therefore,  Representative  Berkowitz                                                               
remarked, "Something  can happen on  account of this."   Thus, it                                                               
is critical  for the [state]  to have a  plan.  The  second step,                                                               
implementation of  a plan, cannot occur  if what "we" want  to do                                                               
is unknown.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1309                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HALCRO   moved  that  the  committee   adopt  the                                                               
following amendment:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 15:                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
          Insert new paragraph (3) to read as follows:                                                                          
         "(3) to recommend financing options including                                                                          
          federal, state or municipal grants, bonds or                                                                          
          other means; and"                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the remaining paragraph.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
There being no objection, the amendment was adopted.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1410                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO  moved to  report HCR 1  as amended  out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
zero fiscal note.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUESS  announced that she wanted  to offer another                                                               
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO withdrew his motion.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUESS  inquired as  to the committee's  opinion of                                                               
having  a member  from  AIDEA and  the  Denali Commission,  since                                                               
those are groups that are doing some of these energy projects.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HALCRO  related  the  notion of  having  the  two                                                               
presiding officers appoint one member  each, rather than two, and                                                               
then two members  could be added, one representing  AIDEA and one                                                               
representing the Denali Commission.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GUESS  expressed   interest  in   the  sponsor's                                                               
thoughts in  regard to including  representatives from  AIDEA and                                                               
the  Denali Commission.   She  expressed concern  with decreasing                                                               
the presiding officers'  appointments to one each  because of the                                                               
resulting lack of minority representation.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1512                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MORGAN said  he wondered  if a  subcommittee should  be                                                               
appointed in order  to deal with the composition and  cost of the                                                               
task force.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ answered that he  would like to have the                                                               
process move along.   In regard to having  two additional members                                                               
on the task  force, Representative Berkowitz said  he believes it                                                               
would be a "good thing."   He acknowledged that the committee may                                                               
want to  strike one or  two members,  if the committee  feels the                                                               
task force is getting too large.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MEYER  reiterated Representative  Halcro's  suggestion,                                                               
which would not increase the membership of the task force.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HALCRO  reiterated  Representative  Guess'  point                                                               
that limiting  the presiding officers'  appointments to  one each                                                               
would  result in  the elimination  of a  representative from  the                                                               
Minority  Caucus.   Representative  Halcro  expressed his  belief                                                               
that it  would be  more important to  have a  representative from                                                               
the  Denali Commission  versus the  Alaska Trucking  Association.                                                               
He   also   indicated   the  possibility   of   eliminating   the                                                               
respresentative  from  AML  because there  would,  certainly,  be                                                               
regional and community involvement.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MEYER  stated that once  the committee  becomes involved                                                               
in eliminating  members, this could  get messy and thus  he would                                                               
recommend creating  a subcommittee.  Perhaps,  expanding the task                                                               
force to  15 members would  be the easiest  way in which  to deal                                                               
with this.  He inquired as to the sponsor's opinion.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ  noted  his  agreement  with  adding  a                                                               
representative from AIDEA and the Denali Commission.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1707                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GUESS   moved  that   the  committee   adopt  the                                                               
following amendment:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, line 20, insert a new number:                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
      "(12) one member appointed by the executive director                                                                      
     of the Denali Commission;                                                                                                  
     (13) one member appointed by the executive director of                                                                     
     AIDEA"                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
There being no objection, the amendment was adopted.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1749                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO  moved to  report HCR 1  as amended  out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
zero fiscal  note.   There being no  objection, CSHCR  1(CRA) was                                                               
reported from  the House Community and  Regional Affairs Standing                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      

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