Bill calls for Alaska Department of Energy

Posted: Thursday, April 09, 2009

JUNEAU - The Senate Energy Committee introduced legislation Wednesday to establish an Alaska Department of Energy.

"The department will be an important component in a larger, proactive statewide energy plan that welcomes fresh thinking about Alaska's energy future," Committee Chairwoman Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, said. "Our intent is to streamline and consolidate Alaska's energy programs and eliminate waste and duplication of effort."

Senate Bill 185 mirrors House Bill 218, introduced by Reps. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, and Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, co-chairs of the House Special Committee on Energy. McGuire said the Senate and House Energy committees are working together to advance statewide energy policy.

"We're going to be busy during the interim," McGuire said. "It's an opportunity for Alaska and we intend to make sure that energy policy and the energy department remain a high priority in the second legislative session."

The state currently has energy programs and agencies spread across several departments, tasked with everything from the home weatherization program in the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, to in-state gas pipeline development.

The Senate and House companion bills would transfer to the Department of Energy the Alaska Energy Authority, the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority and the state's home energy and weatherization program. The matching Senate and House bills also designate the Department of Energy as the agency to receive federal energy funds.

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