House Labor & Commerce Committee Advances Arctic Infrastructure
SB140 creates incentives for private building of ports, roads, and other critical projects in Arctic
JUNEAU-The House Labor and Commerce Committee passed Senate Bill 140, sponsored by Senator Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage). Senate Bill 140 creates incentives to attract private investment to build much needed ports, roads, emergency response systems and telecommunications projects in the Alaskan Arctic and its many communities.
“Globally, all eyes are on the Arctic. The World Economic Forum has recently identified Arctic Infrastructure development as one of the top four challenges facing the region,” said Senator McGuire. “Alaska’s future is in the Arctic, and in order for Alaskans to capitalize on the incredible opportunities and overcome the significant challenges that this region presents, we must begin to build infrastructure now.”
Senate Bill 140 authorizes the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) to offer several financing options aimed at building public-private partnerships for the development of infrastructure in the Arctic. The financing mechanisms in the bill are modeled after the Sustainable Energy Transmission and Supply Development Fund (SETS) created by Senator McGuire in 2012.
“By making financing available we can empower communities and attract a global pool of investment that is an alternative to the traditional grant model,” said Senator McGuire. “Relying on credit also ensures that sponsors have some skin in the game and a stake in the project’s success. Most importantly, we expand the arena of where Alaskan assets are working in order to grow our own economy.”
As Co-Chairs of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (AAPC), Senator McGuire and Representative Bob Herron (D-Bethel) developed the idea behind SB140 during the commission’s multiple meetings around the state over the past year.
“All of our discussions pointed to infrastructure as the foundation for sound Arctic policy and all of the identified steps forward required a financing mechanism,” said Senator McGuire. “There is an estimated $100 billion of private funding that is looking for investment opportunities in the Arctic. This bill creates the incentives and gives AIDEA the tools it needs to build the necessary partnerships.”
SB140 now heads to the House Finance for further consideration.