Creation of Alaska Energy Conservation Commission moves ahead; merger of AOGCC and APUC on hold pending study to be done in interim
The Senate Resources Committee moved Senate Bill 133 to Senate Finance after an April 26 hearing and approval of conceptual amendments. The bill creates the Alaska Energy Conservation Commission.
As originally drafted, the bill repealed the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Alaska Public Utilities Commission effective July 1 this year, with responsibilities of both moving to the new commission.
Bill sponsor Sen. Drue Pearce, R-Anchorage, proposed six changes to SB133. The repeal of the APUC and the creation of the Alaska Energy Conservation Commission would be effective July 1, but the AOGCC would not merge with the APUC at that time and further legislation would be required for that merger to occur. Legislative Budget and Audit would work on a transition report to be delivered to the governor and Legislature in January. The governor would appoint one commissioner from each commission to work on the report which would contain recommendations for restructuring the two commissions into one.
The AOGCC would move to the same location as the APUC as soon as possible, no later than July 1, 2000, and after that time the two commissions would share record keeping facilities and clerical time.
Pipeline regulation and all pending matters, along with at least two tariff staff, would move to the AOGCC effective July 1, 1999. The AOGCC will have access to the additional hearing officer added to the Alaska Energy Conservation Commission after July 1, 1999, as the hearing officer would likely be needed to assist with pipeline regulation. The AOGCC would also receive additional funding and staffing to handle their present responsibilities.
Objections to moving Alaska Coastal Management Program to DNR
The Senate Resources Committee heard a chorus of objections April 26 to the proposal in Senate Bill 140 to move the Alaska Coastal Management Program from the Division of Governmental Coordination to the Department of Natural Resources. The goal of the proposal is to eliminate a DGC position - there is currently no director for that division - and move coastal projects into DNR for "one stop shopping" for permits.
Gabrielle LaRoche, who manages the coastal program for DGC, told the committee that the administration opposes the move and sees no real savings to the state general fund.
Jane Angvik, director of the Division of Lands, said the planning work done by the division is different from that done by the DGC. Lands, she said, plans for the use of Alaska's lands, while the coastal management program evaluates plans for all types of lands - public and private - in relation to coastal priorities.
Members of the Alaska Coastal Policy Council, which has passed a resolution opposing the change, told the committee that it was important to have the program under the governor's office as a buffer between local coastal management districts and the agencies.
There was no testimony in favor of the proposal.