ANCHORAGE - Heating oil and gas prices in rural Alaska remain more than 30 percent higher than they were five years ago, according to the state Division of Community and Regional Affairs.
With villages facing problems providing basic services, the Alaska Federation of Natives leaders told state lawmakers Thursday the federation supports an energy bill that would create a state Energy Department, remove restrictions on nuclear power, fund emerging energy projects and require energy efficiency standards in public construction projects.
Ralph Anderson, an AFN board member and president of the Bristol Bay Native Association, also called on lawmakers to inject money into the Power Cost Equalization program that subsidizes rural electric rates.
AFN delegates did not weigh in on all of the proposals in the broad, 21-page bill, which collects nine proposals introduced in the Legislature last year.
Acting tribal administrator Amelia Edwards told lawmakers that some villagers in the Koyukuk River community of Alatna are driving snowmachines eight or nine miles out of town for firewood in an effort to save on heating oil.
The village sits along the Arctic Circle, just west of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Gasoline, flown to a nearby village and hauled behind snowmachines across the frozen river, costs $7 a gallon, she said.
"Most people need the gas to haul wood and hunt, but some people can't afford that," Edwards said. "They go without."
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