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Natural gas utility board meets for first time

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Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 12:11 am | Updated: 12:07 pm, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The board of the new public Interior natural gas utility assembled for the first time Tuesday afternoon.

Bylaws haven’t been written yet and two seats on the utility board are not yet filled, but the utility is tentatively planning to discuss its first real business at next Tuesday’s meeting — endorsements of natural gas proposals that are being sent to Gov. Sean Parnell in anticipation of his budget, which is due Dec. 15.

Local governments as well as the Fairbanks Economic Development Corp. are requesting a state subsidy from Parnell for proposals to lower energy costs in the Interior by trucking natural from the North Slope to Fairbanks.

An agenda has yet to be set for the new Interior Alaska Natural Gas Utility, but members of the five-member board indicated Tuesday they would discuss the proposals at a 4 p.m. meeting on Tuesday at a location that has not been decided.

The utility was created to facilitate rather than build the facilities to bring gas to Fairbanks. But the board was designed to be an authoritative voice for the Interior’s energy needs, and its support for a proposal could be significant because Parnell has indicated he wants the Interior to get behind a single plan for its energy needs. The five men appointed to the board have professional backgrounds in energy and were appointed by Fairbanks North Star Borough, Fairbanks or North Pole elected officials.

Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins said he will appoint the final two members on Nov. 29.

About a dozen people attended Tuesday’s meeting of the new utility, which aside from a brief discussion of next week’s agenda, dealt mostly with the board’s bylaws and review of the state’s public meetings laws, which applies to the board because it is a governmental body.

The only public comment came from borough Assemblyman Lance Roberts, who said he hopes the new utility will refrain from using public money on political campaigns.

Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545.

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