By Dave Donaldson
People hoping for a gasline from the North Slope to the Railbelt and SouthCentral Alaska now have a deadline for when they can expect delivery. Governor Parnell yesterday signed a bill into law setting up a new, streamlined approach to get gas into utilities, businesses and people’s homes by the end of 2015. Parnell said the goals for the project are aggressive, but Alaskans can meet it.
That’s Alaskans taking charge of our future. We’re saying we’re going to work to take our resources to Alaskans and to markets beyond. The last year our administration has spent –getting cost estimates on a gasline. This puts in place a formal structure on how that can move forward from here on.
Originally sponsored by House Speaker Mike Chenault, the bill was combined with another bill by Anchorage Republican Lesil McGuire to get final House and Senate approval. Chenault said that without deadlines projects never work as well.
While we all understand that a bigger line will probably be cheaper, the issue is: do we ever get to that big line. And I don’t think Alaska now can wait on ten, fifteen, thirty years down the road before we actually build this big line. I think the energy needs of Alaskans need to be met and they need to be met as quickly as they can and at a reasonable cost.
The bill charges a new management team with using research and proposals that have already been done and with making a decision on routes and service for the line. The five-person team will be headed by the Executive Director of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, Dan Fauske.
The bill requires the work product to be put before the legislature next summer for a decision on how to proceed with the project. It will include financing, design and construction to be done. The bill signed today leaves open the legislature’s options of the state’s building the line itself or working with the private sector for the construction.