FAIRBANKS — Competing applications to provide natural gas distribution in North Pole could slow decisions important to an overall liquefied natural gas trucking plan, a state official said.
Gene Therriault, deputy director of the Alaska Energy Authority, told the Fairbanks City Council last week that he would like to see resolution sooner than later.
The municipal Interior Gas Utility and privately run Fairbanks Natural Gas have each submitted applications for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to operate natural gas distribution in the North Pole area, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. Fairbanks Natural Gas has such a certificate for Fairbanks.
The issue is currently before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. A decision is expected before the end of October.
Therriault said the sooner the issue is resolved, the better — whether that’s a decision from the regulatory commission or an agreement between Interior Gas and Fairbanks Natural Gas.
Therriault oversees statewide energy policy development for the Alaska Energy Authority and has been closely involved with the natural gas trucking plan. He said the state is working on determining the size of the plants needed on the North Slope and cost of gas delivered to consumers.
The community goal is a gas price of $15 per thousand cubic feet. That’s about equal to an equivalent of $2 per gallon of heating oil.
The energy plan won broad support in the Legislature earlier this year, with its goal of helping provide more affordable energy to Fairbanks-area residents. The Legislature approved more than $300 million in low-interest loans, bonds, tax credits and grants to help advance the project, which relies on private industry involvement to operate much of the infrastructure.
The city councils of North Pole and Fairbanks and the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly approved creating the municipal utility to facilitate or provide natural gas distribution if private industry failed to do so.
Fairbanks Mayor Jerry Cleworth said the municipal utility should be considered a last resort if private plans don’t provide low-cost energy in a timely, cost-effective manner.