Legislature(2001 - 2002)
02/28/2001 03:20 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HCR 1 - STATEWIDE COMP ENERGY PLAN TASK FORCE CHAIR MURKOWSKI announced the next order of business, HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 1, Relating to establishing a Task Force on a Statewide Comprehensive Energy Plan. [Officially before the committee was CSHCR 1(CRA), but packets contained a proposed committee substitute (CS), version 22-LS0307\J, Cramer, 2/27/01, which was addressed in the sponsor statement.] Number 0792 REPRESENTATIVE ETHAN BERKOWITZ, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of HCR 1, explained that Alaska does not have a statewide energy plan. At the national level, there is a conversation about an energy plan, which members of the [congressional] delegation are involved in. He believes it is an opportune time to put [an energy plan] together in Alaska. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ expressed the intent of melding together components from existing proposals. He noted that AIDEA [Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority] and the Denali Commission have been working with a three-year - or longer - program to come up with various components. There is an opportunity now to accelerate the process, he told members, and perhaps to have an impact with what happens with a gas pipeline, before anything is actually built. Number 0684 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked that the committee adopt the proposed CS, Version J. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG made a motion to adopt Version J [22- LS0307\J, Cramer, 2/27/01] as a work draft. REPRESENTATIVE MEYER specified that he wanted to speak to the version approved by the House Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee [CSHCR 1(CRA)]. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ explained that Version J begins with the incorporation of a technical amendment proposed by Representative Meyer. Version J has 12 people on the task force. It removes one Senator and one Representative from the task force, and deletes any reference to caucus affiliation; it removes someone from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and adds someone from the Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AkPIRG); it replaces the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) member with someone from the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC); it also deletes [the members appointed by the Alaska Truckers Association and the president of the University of Alaska], adding instead [a member appointed by] the Alaska Conservation Alliance. Number 0546 REPRESENTATIVE MEYER objected to adopting Version J as a work draft. He noted that Representatives Halcro and Berkowitz are members of the House Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee [which Representative Meyer co-chairs]; in that committee, members spent quite a bit of time going over the task force members. He commented: We thought that raising it from 13 to 15, and adding one from AIDEA and one from Denali [Commission] was important, to keep the sense of synergy and of all the different studies that were going on. But what's happened here is that we're removing the trucking association, which I think the committee felt it was important to keep a business perspective on there. The reason why I think we wanted two appointed from the Senate and two from the House was so that you would have both ... a "D" and an "R" representation on this task force. And we're removing one from the Alaska Federation of Natives and replacing it with the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative; ... frankly, I don't know if that's good or not. I would like to hear from ... Representative Morgan, who was co-chair of the [House Community and Regional Affairs Standing] Committee, or at least somebody from rural Alaska, as to whether that's acceptable or not. Number 0454 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO suggested that whenever the number of politicians involved can be reduced, the more productive [a task force] will be. REPRESENTATIVE MEYER agreed. He said, however, that if the makeup of the [task force] is going to be changed this much - reducing the number from 15 to 12, then adding the Alaska Conservation Alliance by taking off the Alaska [Trucking] Association - it warrants more discussion. Number 0382 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he himself has substantial objections to the makeup of the [task force] but is willing to adopt the proposed CS and talk about it. REPRESENTATIVE MEYER removed his objection. Number 0355 CHAIR MURKOWSKI announced that with the objection removed, the proposed CS [Version J] was before the committee. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ told members he isn't a big fan of task forces or resolutions. However, there aren't many other tools in putting together a long-range plan. He suggested it is healthy to make this as unwieldy as possible and to bring in as disparate a group of people as possible. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ spoke to Representative Meyer's concerns. He pointed out that in all likelihood, the person "sacrificed" from the House minority would be himself. He restated that smaller is better, generally. As for replacing the AFN representative with one from AVEC, the intent is to have a person with direct experience with some of the needs of rural Alaska; to his knowledge, there is little disagreement between AVEC and AFN on this particular issue. In addition, he wants a level of technical expertise, and some people at AVEC have been involved with policy formulation regarding energy for some time. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ pointed out that AVEC, ARECA [Alaska Rural Electric Cooperative Association], and AOGA [Alaska Oil and Gas Association] are business-related. Furthermore, ASTF [Alaska Science and Technology Foundation], the Denali Commission, and AIDEA could appoint a businessperson. Thus there is plenty of opportunity for the business community to weigh in. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ emphasized that at any point, anybody from around the state can participate in this task force. He doesn't intend for it to be exclusive or an academic exercise. However, having these "entry ports" for different interest groups around the state will cause more people to weigh in and to cooperate in [the policy formulation]. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ explained that AkPIRG, which has expressed an interest in participating, is the only direct consumer representative that he knows of in the state. As for the Alaska Conservation Alliance, the model that has been followed with most successful industrial development is to bring in, at the policy formation stage, people "who might start shooting at the plan later," in order to minimize discord later. In addition, bringing different groups of people together early sometimes results in a better idea. Number 0096 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG commended Representative Berkowitz for the "light version," with a zero fiscal note and fewer legislative members in order to invite more public participation. He offered his opinion, however, that the ratio of public representatives to private representatives is nine to one, because ARECA mainly represents electrical cooperatives and AVEC is a cooperative. TAPE 01-27, SIDE A Number 0001 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said there are no major consumers such as LNG [liquefied natural gas] distributors or representatives from the mining or transportation sectors. Although he believes AkPIRG would be a good member, he said, it misrepresents a legislative function to say that legislators don't represent the consumers. The makeup should be looked at further, Representative Rokeberg asserted, since he believes it is overweighted to public-sector people; to him, every representative except the AOGA person has a public orientation, including the legislators, who most often come from the public sector. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ emphasized the difficulty of being effective with even 12 people. Number 0130 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he understands that, but doesn't see what the Alaska Municipal League, for example, has to do with energy, other than as a consumer. An energy plan could include anything from "green" power - such as wind, solar, or hydroelectric energy - to coal, oil, gas, or shallow-gas methane; those all require engineering elements. He emphasized his belief that there is an imbalance. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ responded that some of the most impressive wind-power efforts are in Kotzebue, and Kotzebue Electric is a member of ARECA and AVEC. Therefore, there is access to that kind of engineering skill. He indicated he would welcome suggestions from Representative Rokeberg, however, regarding other task force members. Number 0239 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG replied that he would replace the Alaska Municipal League, the ASTF, and the Denali Commission with private-sector-oriented representatives who could provide expertise regarding where the energy comes from and how it will be distributed. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ pointed out that the Denali Commission is working on a rural energy plan; they have engineers working for them, and a likely candidate would be Charlie Walls (ph). In addition, the hope is that ASTF could supply a member with technical expertise, which could be specified. Furthermore, the Alaska Municipal League can reach a great number of people fairly quickly. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said he was open to suggestions regarding transportation, for example, but emphasized that the federal commission has just a handful of people. It is critical to start this process and put a plan down, even if it is later modified. If a [task force] is too big, nothing will come of it. Number 0397 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he doesn't disagree with that, and that Representative Berkowitz's comments regarding the Alaska Conservation Alliance are appropriate. He added, however, "I don't think these people represent the vast majority of the people in the state or the expertise that you could bring to the issue." REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked whom Representative Rokeberg would suggest as a representative with business experience. [Representative Rokeberg didn't respond, and Chair Murkowski called on other members.] Number 0473 REPRESENTATIVE MEYER offered that the president of the University of Alaska would probably designate somebody who had expertise in energy. Furthermore, members of the Alaska Truckers Association obviously use a lot of fuel. He asked why Representative Berkowitz had chosen to remove those two and add someone from the Alaska Conservation Alliance. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ answered that he had wanted to make the [task force] smaller, and felt in some ways those needs overlapped. He had removed the university because he hadn't heard "an overwhelming response from them," although he had hoped the university might designate someone from ISER [Institute of Social and Economic Research]. Furthermore, he had removed the [Alaska Truckers Association] because in the House Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee there was little enthusiasm and a lot of questioning about why it was included. On reflection, he said, Representative Rokeberg's point about the transportation industry as a whole is well taken; if Representative Rokeberg could come up with a good member, 13 would be a great number. Number 0630 REPRESENTATIVE MEYER recommended that if the Alaska Truckers Association is removed, then the Alaska Conservation Alliance, which could be controversial, should be removed as well, leaving an odd number [of task force members], 11. Number 0670 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO responded that he believes the member from the Alaska Conservation Alliance should remain, to provide another viewpoint regarding sources of energy. Any statewide energy plan, as Representative Rokeberg had pointed out, would entail some kind of "green" power. Furthermore, there should be a divergence of opinion at the table. He noted that he was one of the members of the previous committee who had questioned why the Alaska Truckers Association was included, and said he has no problem with removal of that organization; he pointed out that it was not a slight. He suggested that other members could be swapped. Number 0743 CHAIR MURKOWSKI noted that she had spoken with [Representative Berkowitz's] staff and had suggested that having fewer members is better than more. She emphasized the weighty issue to be undertaken - a comprehensive statewide energy plan - with no money to do it. She proposed that even though the truckers aren't included, for example, the AFL-CIO will represent that interest. She cautioned, however, that any member may be expendable if another member is proposed. She said she doesn't believe it should be a straight-across exchange. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ indicated he didn't intend it as a straight-across exchange; it came about as people expressed interest. He pointed out that legislators have access to people who can provide hard data. The Denali Commission could also do that. There are plenty of ways to do research. Number 0887 CHAIR MURKOWSKI referred to two letters in packets, one from the Alaska Conservation Voters [and the Alaska Conservation Alliance] and the other from AkPIRG. She asked Representative Berkowitz whether he had sought out groups or had been contacted by groups seeking to be on [the task force]. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ answered that the one group that contacted him in the last week was the Coal Association. In addition, he'd had contact with most of these people, including AIDEA; the Denali Commission; the ASTF; ARECA; the Alaska Municipal League, which indicated that coming up with an energy plan for Alaska is one of its priorities; and Senate and House members. Number 0950 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG recommended that two members be from the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, one representing transportation and the other representing the natural gas industry, unless the committee could come up with something else. He would delete the Alaska Municipal League and the ASTF, and the Denali Commission was "in his cross-hairs." REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ emphasized that [the Denali Commission] has part of a plan; he wants to be able to bring in the work they've done. He characterized it as a rural plan. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG interjected, saying that was why he was reluctant, but that he believes the task force needs someone from the mining or coal groups involved. He said he thinks Representative Berkowitz has done a pretty good job in terms of public members, but it is overweighted that way. He again stated the desire for people with more technical knowledge on the task force. He commented that otherwise, it looks like something that came out of the New Deal in 1934. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ pointed out that the New Deal worked for 60 years. Number 1104 STEPHEN CONN, Executive Director, Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AkPIRG), testified via teleconference. He noted that AkPIRG has held itself out [for membership on the task force], as it had many times in the past when energy and utility matters were concerned, to be part of the discussion and to offer its own network of local and national expertise. He informed the committee that AkPIRG representatives attend a great number of national meetings relating to electric utilities and other matters. MR. CONN explained that in being part of attempts to construct plans geared to the future, quite often what emerges are questions, almost checklists of areas that need to be addressed, so that when dealing with a discrete issue - whether a gas pipeline or an intertie, for example - the plan guides the discussion towards consideration of issues that otherwise might have been left out. Should the legislature go forth with the task force, Mr. Conn concluded, and should AkPIRG be chosen to be included, AkPIRG members would be very glad to offer any resources, networks, or expertise. Number 1233 MEERA KOHLER, President and CEO, Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC), testified via teleconference. She told the committee she was gratified that Version J named AVEC as a member of the group. Her initial review of the resolution is that it is much needed in Alaska, she said, and she is anxious to see it come to fruition. Ms. Kohler noted that she had been concerned about the preponderance of non-industry representatives on the task force, but with the amendments proposed, she could see that the ensuing balance would lead to a hardworking and productive task force. MS. KOHLER pointed out that ARECA represents not just rural electric cooperatives, but also most of the utilities serving urban Alaska. Chugach Electric, ML&P [Anchorage's Municipal Light and Power], Golden Valley Electric and Homer Electric are full members of ARECA. Ms. Kohler said she is sure that one of the urban utilities would be represented on the task force. MS. KOHLER told the committee that the statewide rural energy plan, currently being worked on by the Denali Commission and AIDEA, is something AIDEA is spearheading; she urged that they be fully involved in development of this statewide plan, "because their input is going to be absolutely invaluable." She expressed support for the resolution and concluded, "I would be very, very happy to have AVEC participate in this in any way that we possibly can. If we're not actually named to the task force, we will certainly be available to provide whatever expertise we can." Number 1344 SUE SCHRADER, Conservation Advocate, Alaska Conservation Voters and Alaska Conservation Alliance, came forward to testify, noting that committee members had a copy of her memorandum [dated February 26, 2001], which she wouldn't repeat. She expressed appreciation to the committee for hearing this, and to Representative Berkowitz for considering the request to him and his staff that the Alaska Conservation Alliance possibly be included on the task force. MS. SCHRADER pointed out that many of her organizations' members have participated on other task forces, on a variety of issues including mining, university lands, and water permitting. There is a lot of wisdom to getting everything out on the table, she said, right from the start. Any of the energy plans will have environmental impacts, she pointed out, adding that she believes her organizations can bring some resources and expertise to help look at those impacts from the beginning, to help work out details ahead of time. Number 1420 REPRESENTATIVE MEYER said he supports representation from Ms. Schrader's group on this [task force], but wishes she could have come before the House Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee in order to have more discussion relating to the tradeoffs. "You should be part of this task force," he added. CHAIR MURKOWSKI closed public testimony. Number 1464 REPRESENTATIVE MEYER expressed support for the resolution and the concept. He said there are all sorts of plans and ideas; it will be good to have a task force like this to bring them all together with a unified focus. As to whether this is the right makeup, he added, he doesn't know. Number 1491 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG concurred, then said he'd be more comfortable with a "three-member swap" along the lines he had previously suggested. Representative Rokeberg said he would accede to [Representative Berkowitz's] wisdom about the Denali Commission. He then questioned what expertise the AFL-CIO would provide; he noted that this relates to an energy policy, not the labor workforce per se. Number 1574 REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD remarked that he supports the idea of having this task force, but the debate on who has more expertise could be debated indefinitely; he believes the people who construct powerhouses and wind towers, for example, should have a voice at the table, and that member is essential. Although there should be someone from the coal [industry], how many members are too many to wield? He said he'd like to have somebody from the AFL-CIO to voice the concerns of the construction industry on anything that gets built that's has to do with [Alaska's] energy policies. Number 1677 CHAIR MURKOWSKI emphasized that this isn't to the point of talking about building anything yet. She surmised that the focus of a comprehensive plan will be on what options exist and are realistic, rather than "getting to the commitment stage." After the task force made a recommendation, the legislature or administration would take it from there; at that point, the labor organizations would have to be involved in the conversations. CHAIR MURKOWSKI reported that in going through her list, she had singled out eight that she believes to be imperative; she returned to Representative Meyer's comment that the committee could talk about it all day without reaching consensus. She mentioned the need to incorporate some of Representative Rokeberg's suggestions. Number 1777 REPRESENTATIVE HAYES commented that a member from AOGA could easily be a member of the State Chamber [of Commerce]. He said people wear many different hats. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asserted that there is one private- sector person [listed in Version J]. REPRESENTATIVE HAYES said, "I think you can get to where you want to go with what you have here." Number 1815 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ responded that he would imagine that whatever task force is put forward would have an incredible outreach, which he believes is essential. He stated: I think it's very clear: there needs to be a lot of deliberations with various aspects of the business community involved, and [there needs] to be outreach to academia, to power-generation facilities. ... There's no way we could put everyone on here. We know how hard it is to do things with 40 people [in the House]. To cover the expertise in minute detail on a task force would require at least that many folks. ... I would encourage the task force, to the extent I can do it from here, to reach out as far and as wide as it can, because that's going to yield the best product. [Maybe] they can have a subcommittee. I'm not going to tell them how to do their job. Number 1881 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG referred to page 1, subsection (3) [Version J, lines 15-16, which read: "(3) to recommend financing options, including federal, state, or municipal grants, bonds, or other means"]. He suggested that the whole private sector - banks - had been skipped. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said that is the "other means." REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG referred to page 1, line , which read in part: "the roles of the federal, state, municipal, and tribal governments". He said the governor had adopted "that stance" and asked whether [the statutes] have language to that effect. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said the federal government has adopted it, but he doesn't know whether it is in the state statutes. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG suggested there may be another way to "finesse that somewhere along the line." Number 1959 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG made a motion to adopt an amendment to remove the [Alaska] Municipal League member on page 2, line 8; and to remove the Alaska Science and Technology [Foundation] member on page 2, line 13. In their place, the [Alaska] State Chamber [of Commerce] would appoint two members chosen from the following three industries: transportation, natural gas, or coal mining. [This was later amended and split into Amendments 1 and 2.] Representative Rokeberg explained that it broadens the representation without broadening the membership. Number 2064 REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD referred to [page 2] line 12, which listed "one member appointed by the Alaska Oil and Gas Association". He asked whether natural gas isn't already covered. Number 2095 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO asked: Why not specify that there will be one member appointed by the Alaska Miners Association? He pointed out that some members of that association might not be members of the [Alaska State] Chamber [of Commerce]. Number 2110 REPRESENTATIVE MEYER suggested that if Representative Rokeberg's intent is to have two members from the private sector, perhaps it could just say that the [Alaska] State Chamber [of Commerce] is to appoint two members from the private sector; that wouldn't narrow it so much. Number 2161 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said he thinks it is particularly important to [include] someone who is concerned with transportation. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG suggested perhaps the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce member could be used for the transportation member, and then there could be someone from the Alaska Miners Association. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ proposed that along with having an Alaska State Chamber of Commerce member with expertise in transportation, someone from the RDC [Resource Development Council] could call on somebody from the coal or [mining] industry, for example. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG concurred. Number 2199 CHAIR MURKOWSKI asked Representative Berkowitz about the deletion of the Alaska Municipal League and ASTF members. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ expressed confidence that the assistance of the Alaska Municipal League or the ASTF could always be obtained, if needed. "This is a good public policy step," he added. "They're going to want to be there." Number 2232 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG split his amendment into two amendments. Conceptual Amendment 1, on [page 2] line 8, subsection (3), would replace the [Alaska] Municipal League member with a member from the transportation industry appointed by the [Alaska] State Chamber [of Commerce]. Conceptual Amendment 2 would delete [page 2] lines 13-14 ["(7) one member appointed by the executive director of the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation;"]. That member would be replaced by a member [appointed by] the RDC. Number 2328 CHAIR MURKOWSKI asked whether there was any objection to either amendment. [No objection was stated; therefore, Conceptual Amendments 1 and 2 were treated as adopted.] CHAIR MURKOWSKI mentioned the member appointed by the AFL-CIO. She asked Representative Berkowitz whether he feels it is necessary to have a labor representative at this point. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ replied that when talking about planning, he believes it is important "to have people who know how to do," such as people who have picked up a shovel or wielded a hammer. Engineers are great for a design, he said, but someone has to put it together; practical expertise is significant. A good plan is shaped by the limitations of a workforce regarding what is feasible. CHAIR MURKOWSKI said she doesn't know that she agrees, but she doesn't have anybody whom she wants to put in there. Number 2413 CHAIR MURKOWSKI referred to the termination date. She asked whether the committee really anticipates that full appointment of the membership could take until June 15. In that case, she suggested, the task force may not get much done. She asked whether there is some "magic" in that. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said no. CHAIR MURKOWSKI proposed, then, that work begin immediately upon appointment of the full membership. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ replied that if someone drags his or her heels, however, there could be a problem [without the June 15 date]. Number 2448 REPRESENTATIVE HAYES asked why there is a House member and a Senate member, and how important it is [to the sponsor]. The privatization [commission], he noted, didn't go much further than filing a report. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ replied that [the inclusion of the House and Senate members] is out of necessity. TAPE 01-27, SIDE B Number 2471 [The remainder of Representative Berkowitz's reply is inaudible because of a temporary problem with tape speed.] REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO moved to report CSHCR 1 [version 22- LS0307\J, Cramer, 2/27/01] as amended out of committee with individual recommendations and the attached zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSHCR 1(L&C) was moved out of the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.