Successful 'Fuel Watch' Program Wraps up Second Year
November 17, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska – A state program designed to ensure that rural Alaska communities have adequate access to home-heating fuel has wrapped up its second successful year.
The Fuel Watch program is an initiative of Governor Sean Parnell that was implemented by the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development through its Division of Community and Regional Affairs. Fuel Watch came about as a proactive approach to preventing the kind of seasonal hardship that fuel shortages caused in many rural communities in the winter and early spring of 2009.
Since July 1, DCRA staff have worked with all 341 identifiable community organizations around the state to identify and mitigate in advance any issues that could lead to emergency situations this winter. Nearly 900 separate contacts were made by staff to verify that financial arrangements had been made and fuel supplies obtained. Nearly all communities have either received their winter fuel supply or are on a normal cyclic delivery schedule. DCRA staff will continue to monitor them and offer assistance should their plans for meeting winter fuel needs fail.
“Helping Alaskans is what this is all about,” said Susan Bell, commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. “Fuel Watch has allowed us to put state resources to work proactively to support communities and prevent crisis.”
As part of the Fuel Watch outreach, DCRA officials also worked with fuel delivery companies to identify where assistance might be needed. Communities with limited financial resources were encouraged to apply for financing through state loan programs.
In the program’s first year, DCRA staff made more than 1,500 phone calls and assisted 200 communities prior to the onset of winter. Alaska villages saw a significantly reduced number of fuel shortages than were experienced a year earlier. That trend is expected to continue this year.
“We appreciate the help of everyone involved in making the Fuel Watch program a success for another year,” said DCRA Director Tara Jollie. “Measuring that success in warm families and healthy communities makes this effort even more gratifying.”