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Groups behind competing Alaska natural gas projects hold talks

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Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 11:34 pm | Updated: 11:51 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS – Gov. Sean Parnell’s two-day visit to help push ahead natural gas projects for Interior Alaska has brought the backers of the two competing natural gas trucking plans to the table in search of alignment.

Parnell is searching for the best way for state money or loans to expedite and lower the cost to process, truck and distribute natural gas to the Fairbanks area. However, Parnell said the community must align behind one plan.

Fairbanks Natural Gas and Golden Valley Electric Association have both actively pursued their own projects in parallel. FNG has argued that it’s closer to building a project, while GVEA has argued its project can truck more gas.

During the last legislative session, a lack of agreement doomed a bid to win state involvement in a trucking project.

The two companies, as well as a number of other stakeholders, had met before Parnell arrived to discuss common goals. Parnell said their work is a good sign that the project is moving forward.

“I have been very pleased by the amount of discussions I’ve had and the number of discussions that were held before I got here,” he said. “They’re working together better now than I’ve seen, and I think they should be commended.”

Corey Borgeson, GVEA’s interim CEO, said the governor’s visit has helped spur renewed and reinvigorated talks between the two entities.

“We all met together in preparation to meet with the governor, and that process has brought us closer to were we get alignment to achieve everybody’s goals,” he said. “At the end of the day, the one common goal is to provide natural gas to the Fairbanks community, and while everybody has differing ways they want to do it, we think there can be an alignment where everybody’s needs are met.”

Dan Britton, FNG’s CEO and president, agreed that he believes alignment between the companies is in sight.

“I think there’s an opportunity that Golden Valley and FNG will come forward with a clear plan for an LNG project,” he said. “FNG has stated many times in the past it doesn’t have to be our plan to be built.”

The companies still haven’t decided which plan could go forward for state financing, but Borgeson and Britton said they appreciated the governor’s attention.

Parnell plans to take the material collected at the meetings to his departments to produce a more thorough analysis of each project. He said he plans to return with a few options for state involvement in the near future.

“We still have a long ways to go, but I think we have an idea of what’s ahead,” he said.

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 or follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.

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