It’s official. Gov. Sarah Palin has signed bills passed by the Alaska Legislature in special session in early August starting TransCanada Alaska on its way toward a proposed gas pipeline from the North Slope to market and providing relief for Alaskans from the high cost of energy.
The governor signed bills for an energy rebate and related measures Aug. 25.
On Aug. 27 at an Alaska AFL-CIO conference in Anchorage she signed the bill approving the issuance of an Alaska Gasline Inducement Act license to TransCanada.
TransCanada, although it won’t receive its AGIA license for 90 days, has already started weather-sensitive work in Alaska, with the goal of completing an open season within two years. The terms of AGIA provide that the state only pays a share of reimbursable expenses after the AGIA license is issued; because legislators did not make the legislation effective immediately it takes effect in 90 days as provided by the state constitution.
TransCanada has authorized aerial photography, engineering and environmental gap analysis in support of the open season project.
TransCanada Vice President Tony Palmer said Aug. 27 after the bill-signing that the company is doing weather-sensitive work in Alaska this summer and expects to let a contract for office space this fall, probably in Anchorage or Fairbanks.
Work in Canada, where TransCanada subsidiary Foothills Pipe Line already has weather-sensitive information, is for pipeline and compression design, he said.
Palin: law a step forwardPalin called the bill granting the AGIA license to TransCanada Alaska “a huge step forward on a new road to making that natural gas pipeline a reality.”
Getting the AGIA license approved by the Legislature “was not pretty; it wasn’t easy or quick,” and took a lot of support from “many of you here in this room,” Palin told the AFL-CIO audience.
She said their help would be needed again, because legislators didn’t pass money for training to prepare Alaskans for gas pipeline work.
Legislators will get another chance to pass training dollars when they reconvene in January, she said.
PFDs to be issued earlyThe energy cost relief bill and the accompanying appropriation bill signed Aug. 25 provide a one-time payment of $1,200 to Alaskans eligible for the 2008 Permanent Fund dividend. It raises the maximum amount of loans that can be issued by the bulk fuel bridge and bulk fuel revolving loan funds to communities and cooperatives by 50 percent. It provides for changes in the Power Cost Equalization Program, raising the cap on which PCE payments are made from 52.5 cents per kilowatt hour to $1 per kilowatt hour. And it suspends the state’s motor fuel tax from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, 2009.
PFD distribution typically begins in October, but the governor said Alaskans who signed up for direct deposit for their PFD would see the PFD and the $1,200 one-time energy payment deposited Sept. 12. “In rural Alaska, particularly, many people are facing a choice between feeding their families and heating their homes, and they could use this payment from the state’s energy-generated surplus to cover some of those bills,” Palin said in a statement.
The governor also signed a proclamation declaring September as “Energy Efficiency Month” in Alaska, encouraging Alaskans to lower their costs by using energy more efficiently at work, home and on the road.