Weather thwarts village fuel run

Early freeze-up on the Kuskokwim leaves residents without diesel

Posted: Sunday, October 19, 2008

ANCHORAGE - The village of Kwethluk faces a winter crisis after early freeze-up on the Kuskokwim River left the community without diesel fuel because fuel barges couldn't get through.

Village leaders declared an emergency declaration and seek state and federal financial help.

They said the village's 800 residents face loss of electricity and exposure to extreme cold in another month.

State officials said Friday they are considering a loan to help pay the higher upfront cost of flying fuel oil to Kwethluk.

Officials said some of the fuel might also be driven by truck up a river ice road later in the winter.

A cash flow problem has created a similar fuel problem in Arctic Village, northeast of Fairbanks. Village officials appealed to the state for an emergency loan to help pay the cost of bringing in fuel, which must be flown to the community.

The usual challenge of getting the winter's fuel to rural villages is tougher this year because of the rising cost of diesel.

Most villages rely on a state program that provides loans to purchase bulk fuel. The loans must be paid back as communities sell the fuel to utilities and consumers.

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