Nov. 19, 2012
To the editor:
Fairbanks pays 143 percent more for utilities than the national average while Anchorage pays 2 percent less. To quantify that, if a typical utility bill was $100, ours in Fairbanks would be $243, while in Anchorage it would be $98. Add to that the fact that Fairbanks is repeatedly in violation of air quality standards because of coal, oil and wood burning.
Now please explain to me why a plan to generate low-cost electricity on the North Slope using “stranded” natural gas and transmitting that electricity to Fairbanks and other Interior communities doesn’t make sense.Transmission lines are generally cheaper to build and less invasive to the environment than pipelines. Most homes already have electrical service sufficient to handle all or most of their heating needs. If we could replace even half of our heating and power generation with electricity transmitted from the North Slope, our air quality problems wo uld be solved.
Now think of the cost and dangers involved with thousands of trucks full of explosive natural gas traveling down one of the most dangerous roads in the world and the accompanying tank farms necessary to insure a steady supply of that gas here in Fairbanks.
There also are a host of potential indoor air quality problems that come with natural gas appliances in the home and virtually none with electric heat.
So why is this option not being taken seriously? The two answers I hear consistently are that 300,000 Southcentral residents don’t need it (remember, they have utility costs below the national average) and it might divert attention away from a massive hydroelectric project (which we have been talking about for 50 years) and a natural gas pipeline (which we have been talking about for more than 30 years).
The gas is up there. It’s “stranded.” It is being “flared” and pumped back into the ground. It could be providing clean, low-cost power and heat to the Interior. I’m just saying.