If there is to be a special session, I hope that the governor, lieutenant governor, Chief of Staff Mike Tibbles, senators and representatives will consider near-term solutions to our increasing costs of fuel and electricity in our rural and remote communities of Alaska.
Sound off on the important issues at
1. We need to make sure that the power cost equalization program is fully funded. With increasing costs coming with higher diesel prices this summer, calculations for this year will need to be adjusted and additional funds will be needed to fully fund the program. This calculation needs to be done by Alaska Energy Authority and those numbers given to the governor's office and to the Legislature as soon as possible.
2. We need a municipal sales tax waiver for the purchase of electricity, gasoline, heating fuel, diesel and propane. I purchased 800 gallons of fuel and the sales tax was $175.84. Recently, several states have suspended taxes on fuel to lower the cost of fuel for their citizens. I would ask the state to contact our congressional delegation to ask them to suspend federal taxes as well. I believe that a gallon of fuel has an 18-plus percent federal tax.
3. We need an immediate Alaska fuel subsidy program that will take Alaska royalty oil and have it refined in Alaska for in-state use. We would have our gasoline, diesel, and heating fuel refined in Fairbanks and transported to Kenai or Nikiski for delivery to fuel barges to our villages. Railbelt and other communities would have access to the subsidy program through their regular distribution systems. I believe that this program would bring down the cost of fuel for all Alaskans, while we are trying to find alternatives to our energy sources across the state.
4. We need the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority's propane proof of concept proposal funded if it was not done during the regular session. This project will help us determine how we can use existing propane production on the North Slope and have that propane distributed via barge to test case villages. The proof of concept would cost $5 million and is a worthy project that needs to be approved.
We are struggling out here and across the state. It does not matter where we live in our state, people are paying very high prices for our fuel and electricity costs.
These suggested measures will give us immediate relief until we can find better ways to lower our cost of fuel and electricity. Without these programs, many Alaskans will have great difficulty getting through the rest of this year and next.
Nels Anderson Jr.
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