Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 17

03/02/2005 03:15 PM House LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Heard & Held
HCR 3-RENEWABLE ENERGY ALASKA PROJECT                                                                                         
CHAIR ANDERSON announced  that the first order  of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  CONCURRENT RESOLUTION  NO.  3,  Relating to  renewable                                                               
energy resource development.                                                                                                    
3:29:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JAY  RAMRAS, Alaska State  Legislature, introduced                                                               
the bill, stating  that although the state is  awash in petroleum                                                               
and oil,  the state does  have other alternative  energy sources.                                                               
Alaska has  an opportunity to be  at the forefront of  the energy                                                               
production and  this resolution recognizes these  facts and urges                                                               
the Governor  and his office  to work with these  individuals and                                                               
groups aimed at developing these future energy sources.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS then stated  that the local utility company                                                               
in   Fairbanks  issues   a  magazine   that  recently   had  some                                                               
interesting  facts about  green  power coming  to  the area  that                                                               
Golden  Valley Electric  Association manages.   This  article, he                                                               
said, has some interesting statistics:                                                                                          
     -86 percent agree that electrical utilities need to    plan                                                                
     for the eventual demise of nonrenewable fossil fuels.                                                                      
     -82 percent agree that Alaskans need to invest now for                                                                     
     future development of alternative energy.                                                                                  
     -79 percent agree that it means a lot that energy come from                                                                
     environmentally sound sources.                                                                                             
     -72 percent agree that developing green power is necessary                                                                 
     to  reduce pollution emissions from fossil fuels.                                                                          
     -64 percent agree that increasing the use of green power                                                                   
     will reduce the need for imported petroleum and increase                                                                   
     national security.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS ended  by stating that he  was very excited                                                               
about this  resolution and will  have a  bill that will  begin by                                                               
showing initial  steps being made  by communities in  Bethel, who                                                               
are  experimenting with  wind power  by  using Alaska  Industrial                                                               
Development  Authority  to help  bring  down  the costs  for  the                                                               
3:31:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  continued his  conclusion by  stating that                                                               
the  big  issue  for  this  particular subject  is  the  cost  of                                                               
alternative  energy sources.   This  is, he  said, the  big issue                                                               
with alternative energy.   He pointed out that it  costs way more                                                               
to produce a kilowatt than  it does with more conventional energy                                                               
3:31:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  ANDERSON indicated  that he  supported the  resolution and                                                               
was looking  forward to seeing the  bill in final form.   He then                                                               
asked Representative  Crawford if it  were similar to one  of his                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  answered that is  was very similar  to a                                                               
several  bills and  he thought  it was  excellent then  and added                                                               
that Ramras had made it an even better bill.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG,  in regards  to a conference  on climate                                                               
change with  energy conservation, he  found that many  states are                                                               
finding that some  legislators are creating what  they believe to                                                               
be 'Sons  of Kyoto'  bills, which,  he said,  referred to  a very                                                               
promising  but ultimately  unsigned environmental  treaty between                                                               
various countries of the world and the United States.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG indicated  that he  felt that  this bill                                                               
had a  strange ring to the  Kyoto protocol and that  he knew that                                                               
similar legislation  in other states  were when they  made policy                                                               
statements on  portfolio allocation of generations  for the power                                                               
generation capabilities  of the  future.   This set  state policy                                                               
about what types  of sources are used.   He then asked  if it was                                                               
appropriate   for  legislature   to   get   involved  in   energy                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS answered  that he  agreed that  it was  an                                                               
appropriate issue.   He  indicated that  Alaska has  unique needs                                                               
for energy  sources.  One  example of this  is wind power  in the                                                               
Fairbanks area.   This type of energy is  really not particularly                                                               
valuable  since that  area  has  good reserves  of  coal and  can                                                               
generate electricity  that way. He  then stated that the  goal is                                                               
to deliver thermal  units of energy across the  state cheaply and                                                               
that  there are  many  industries that  require  an abundance  of                                                               
energy and alternate  energy is a viable option.   He pointed out                                                               
an example in California where  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is                                                               
working on creating the 'Hydrogen Highway'.   For Alaska to be an                                                               
innovator,  he said,  even as  the state  sits upon  thousands of                                                               
barrels of  crude oil and  a healthy  supply of natural  gas, the                                                               
state  must pursue  alternative energy  options.   This move,  he                                                               
said,  should be  applauded and  not continually  couched into  a                                                               
political statement [against progressive  thinking].  He ended by                                                               
stating that this speaks to the  desires of many for Alaska to be                                                               
a leader in energy development.                                                                                                 
3:36:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG   replied  that   he  agreed   with  the                                                               
sentiments  of the  previous  speaker, and  then  said that  it's                                                               
interesting to  note that interest  in the market for  wind power                                                               
has grown  so substantially  in Europe and  the entry  of General                                                               
Electric into creating new types  of turbines that have been able                                                               
to drive  the cost down  from 20 cents  per kilowatt hour  to 5.5                                                               
cents  per kilowatt  hour.    He pointed  out  that despite  this                                                               
development,  green power  always  costs  more than  conventional                                                               
sources.  However,  he commented that many people  are willing to                                                               
pay  more  for the  service  because  it comes  from  alternative                                                               
source.  He then asked if  Representative Ramras had ever taken a                                                               
poll in  the Valley to determine  if this were the  case there as                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS answered that  this does seem contradictory                                                               
since green power  has the characteristic of  being cheaper since                                                               
it is  free and renewable.   It can be cheaper  than conventional                                                               
sources  if,  in  the  case  of  wind  power,  the  turbines  are                                                               
optimally  placed in  a wind  farm that  is large  enough to  see                                                               
significant  size of  product.   He said  that this  is evidenced                                                               
with  the  communities  of  Palmer and  Bethel,  which  are  good                                                               
examples of this industrial sized green power being implemented.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  continued to  state that it  would behoove                                                               
the  rest of  the state  to  look to  develop alternative  energy                                                               
sources "where we  can, where it's wise and where  we are starved                                                               
for it, and in whatever form makes the best sense".                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  stated, in deference to  his own committee                                                               
efforts, that  when his committee  hears the next bill,  in which                                                               
the committee  asks the Alaska Industrial  Development and Export                                                               
Authority   (AIDEA)  to   help   finance   the  construction   of                                                               
alternative  energy sources  for  those communities  for whom  it                                                               
does  make sense,  you would  be pleased  with the  direction and                                                               
leadership   that  we   are  trying   to  provide   through  this                                                               
legislative body.                                                                                                               
3:39:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  asked if anyone else  was supporting it,                                                               
more specifically AIDA.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  affirmed his own sentiments  and commented                                                               
that  he did  not  care, since  AIDA had  moved  away from  being                                                               
interested in  what is  good for  the average  Alaskan.   He then                                                               
added  that  cheap  power  development  is  a  critical  part  of                                                               
Alaska's future in its rural communities.                                                                                       
3:40:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRIS  ROSE, Executive  Director for  the New  Energy for  Alaska                                                               
Project,  announced  his  full support  for  the  resolution  and                                                               
believed that the state has  the unique opportunity to be leaders                                                               
in  this  field.   He  indicated  that  many states  had  already                                                               
benefited  economically with  jobs  created  in the  construction                                                               
associated with  new alternative  energy sources, and  because of                                                               
the  high tech  businesses  that are  moving  into these  states.                                                               
This is,  he said,  due to these  governments realization  of the                                                               
need  for diverse  energy  sources.   He  ended  by stating  that                                                               
Alaska has many  more opportunities than these states  to lead in                                                               
this  field, including  geothermal,  tidal, wind,  hydroelectric,                                                               
which are just a few examples.                                                                                                  
3:42:07 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ROSE  explained that hydrogen  is something that is  going to                                                               
sustain Americans in the future  and since there is an increasing                                                               
demand  for energy  in  the world,  especially  from third  world                                                               
countries like India  and China, and that the  world's reserve of                                                               
fossil fuels is finite, and  a contributing factor to planet wide                                                               
pollution, and lastly concern about  the related issue of climate                                                               
MR.  ROSE announced  that right  now there  are wind  farms being                                                               
built all over the Midwest and  that opportunity is here as well.                                                               
He illustrated  this point  by referring to  Fire Island  off the                                                               
coast  of Anchorage,  Alaska.   The  scale of  that project  will                                                               
enable it  to be very  economically competitive with  natural gas                                                               
and coal fire  plants at 4 cents  a kilowatt an hour.   The price                                                               
of natural  gas and coal  are going up and  the price of  wind is                                                               
negative- it  is free.  He  indicates that his group,  made up of                                                               
various  utility companies,  have  all come  together to  support                                                               
this  resolution  and  the eventual  use  of  alternative  energy                                                               
3:44:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD thanked  the  previous  speaker for  the                                                               
article  today in  the local  paper and  told the  committee that                                                               
renewable  energy  does not  have  to  be  in conflict  with  the                                                               
standard types  of energy and  instead should be seen  as natural                                                               
progression and an eventuality.                                                                                                 
MR.  ROSE stated  that this  is true  for Alaskans  and that  the                                                               
creation  of  Hydrogen fuel  begins  with  the already  plentiful                                                               
natural resources,  like geothermal  and wind,  that can  be used                                                               
for hydrogen  production, through  electrolysis.  The  source for                                                               
hydrogen is water and this is very plentiful for Alaskans.                                                                      
CHAIR ANDERSON  asked if there  was anyone in the  committee that                                                               
wanted to move the bill out.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  moved to report  HCR 3 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                            

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