Fairbanks is one of the largest cities in Alaska and faces high heating costs as a result of being dependent on volatile-priced heating oil. Interior residents and businesses have experienced winter utility bills greater than their rent and/or mortgages. Natural gas is abundant and readily available at a reasonable cost.
The IEP was developed with three primary goals:
- Provide affordable energy to Interior Alaska customers as soon as possible.
- After providing the Interior with natural gas, assure long-term access to natural gas for all Alaskans
- Use private-sector mechanisms as much as possible
Improving Air Quality
The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to designate areas where air quality does not meet health-based standards for fine particle pollution. These standards are referred to as PM 2.5 (particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller). Fairbanks is currently a non-attainment area for PM 2.5 and as a result the state risks losing federal transportation dollars.
Natural gas is clean burning. Comprised primarily of methane, the main products of the combustion of natural gas are carbon dioxide and water vapor, the same compounds we exhale when we breathe. There are substantial potential health benefits for the Interior associated with switching to natural gas which also puts Fairbanks and North Pole on a path to meeting EPA air-quality standards. Cleaner, healthier air helps to eliminate hurdles for future growth and can promote economic development.
Increasing Demand for a Natural Gas Pipeline
The IEP is not only compatible with a natural gas pipeline, but complements a pipeline by creating greater initial demand. Trucking LNG provides an affordable energy option for the FNSB and incentives for residents and businesses to convert to natural gas, building out a distribution system in advance of a natural gas pipeline.