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Legislature Reauthorizes Renewable Energy Grant Fund (HB 250)

HB 250 would give program five more years, ask for $50M per year

Saturday, April 14, 2012, Juneau, Alaska – A popular state program to help facilitate the development and use of renewable energy projects won a 10-year extension and other updates to its statutes after the Alaska legislature passed House Bill 250 today.

HB 250, sponsored by House Finance Committee Co-chair Bill Thomas, would reauthorize the Renewable Energy Grant Fund within the state-run Alaska Energy Authority.

Thomas thanked the Senate for adding another five years to extend the program through 2023, providing certainty and stability. Thomas sponsored the enabling legislation to create the fund in 2008, and said the Fund has led to some successes across the state already. “We see more and more projects coming online across Alaska every year, with 21 projects fully-operational as of January,” Thomas said. “Falls Creek in Gustavus saves consumers almost 28 cents per kilowatt hour. Humpback Creek in Cordova saves consumers there nearly 11 cents per kWh. More importantly, it’s allowing communities across Alaska to lessen their dependency on expensive diesel fuel, stabilizing their energy costs.”

In addition to the extension, HB 250 continues the legislative intent to fund it in $50 million increments. $176.6 million has been appropriated to the fund since its inception.

The Authority works with an Advisory Committee, and the new HB 250 adds an additional state senator and representative to the committee, appointed by the presiding officers. Its goal is to vet grant applications for funding based on criteria like the current cost of energy in the area, the availability of matching funds and the overall feasibility of the project.

“Access to affordable energy is one of our Caucus’ Guiding Principles, and the Fund emphasizes that by issuing grants for those who see the highest energy costs,” Thomas said. “The Fund is also in line with the state energy policy of promoting the development of renewable and alternative energy resources.”

HB 250 now goes to the governor for signature. It takes effect immediately upon signature.

 

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