Hundreds protest high energy prices at Fairbanks rally

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2008

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks area residents are sick of out-of-control energy prices and they're expressing their views with signs and loud voices.

About 800 people held a rally Thursday evening, calling for state legislators to do something about it now.

The rally was held at the Carlson Center, where lawmakers had gathered for hearings on a natural gas pipeline proposal from TransCanada Corp.

About 30 legislators listened as the crowd applauded speeches by local leaders and ministers.

"When homes can't be heated and food can't be put on the table because of the cost of trying to heat that home, we have a crisis," said Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker.

State Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, said Fairbanks energy woes aren't so different from the recent electricity crunch that hit Juneau.

"I really relate to it," Kerttula said after the rally. "I'm going to do everything I can to see that you guys get the benefit of energy relief. There is no way - no way - you guys can make these prices, and we know that."

Mariah Rice, an area resident, attended the rally, hoping to get a better understanding of why her home heating bill is expected to double to $600 next winter. She figures on paying utility bills higher than her mortgage.

"Winter is not too far away," she said. "A solution in December will be too late."

Among others at the rally was Jeremy Raby. He said he spends $200 a week in gas getting to work from Salcha.

"Something needs to change," he said. "We just hope they're going to listen."

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