Guttenberg Pushes for Action on Natural Gas
Legislator Proposes Pilot Program To Accelerate Gas Delivery
FAIRBANKS- At a public meeting yesterday, Representative David Guttenberg (D-Interior/Wade Hampton) asked the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) to investigate the immediate creation of a pilot program for Interior residents to convert to natural gas. Such a program, as envisioned by Rep. Guttenberg, would allow for small batches of residents to convert to natural gas at a discounted rate in anticipation of gas being trucked to Fairbanks.
“People are uncertain about the conversion process and when to start converting,” Rep. Guttenberg said. “They need to see that something’s likely to happen, so they can prepare with confidence for the switchover from oil to gas. A pilot program will help speed the transition, inspire residents to make the change, and help create a larger, long-term market for gas, all of which will serve as an economic incentive for providers to deliver that gas.”
The Interior Energy Project was established by the Legislature in 2013 to bring natural gas to the Interior from the North Slope. The multi-million dollar project, housed inside the AEA – an arm of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority – includes building a natural gas plant on the North Slope and trucking the gas to the Fairbanks area, where it will be used for home heating and for electrical generation by local utilities.
“We keep hearing we face a ‘chicken vs. egg’ debate – we can’t ship gas because we don’t have customers, but we won’t have customers until we ship gas ,” Guttenberg said. “As long as we hear that circular excuse, nothing’s going to change. “Why can’t we crack that egg a little and actually convert a few local residents to gas? We’ll help create a smooth transition which will help keep prices low and gas flowing.”
Guttenberg plans to send the AEA a more formal written request shortly.