Alaska Governor Sarah Palin [on July 17, 2009 in Unalakleet] signed Senate Bill 88 into law. The bill, sponsored by the Senate Finance Committee, makes permanent the expansion of the Power Cost Equalization (PCE) program adopted last year by the Alaska State Legislature (PCE Legislation, 2009, Â¶1).
“I can foresee a day when PCE is no longer needed,” Governor Palin said. “Energy resources are available all over Alaska. Relying on local resources helps stabilize local economies where fuel collection, processing and transportation are required in and around the community” (PCE Legislation, 2009, Â¶2).
PCE is the program designed to make power more affordable to rural Alaskans. PCE covers the cost of electricity that exceeds 12 cents per kilowatt hour for the first 500 kilowatt hours used by a household each month. Without Senate Bill 88, the new one-dollar ceiling would sunset and revert to the previous 52.5-cent limit. Many rural communities have rates higher than 52.5 cents per kilowatt hour (PCE Legislation, 2009, Â¶3).
There are currently 78,530 people served by PCE in nearly 200 communities (PCE Legislation, 2009, Â¶4).
To understand what Governor Palin signed, and why it is an accomplishment, some background on PCE is required.
“The Energy Cost Reduction Program provides grant and loan financing for project proposals to reduce the cost of power and heat in Alaskan communities. The program is conducted through a competitive request for proposals; proposals are ranked by life cycle benefit cost analysis. Since fuel costs fluctuate and project life-cycles vary, we measure the success of this program by the estimated annual fuel savings expressed in gallons” (Operating Budget, 2009, p. 5).
PCE is operated by the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) and is part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce energy costs in the state. AEA also seeks to upgrade powerhouses, bring those that don’t comply with relevant codes into compliance, and train rural residents in the operation and management of energy infrastructure (Operating Budget, 2009, p. 2).
By signing this legislation, Governor Palin is ensuring that AEA will continue to fulfill its mission of reducing energy costs in Alaska (Operating Budget, 2009, p. 1).
Governor Palin signs power cost equalization bill. (2009, July 17). State of Alaska, Governor. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from: http://www.gov.state.ak.us/news.php?id=1970
State of Alaska FY2009 Governor’s Operating Budget.(2008, January 7). State of Alaska, Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development Alaska Energy Authority. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from: http://gov.state.ak.us/omb/09_omb/budget/DCCED/rdu453.pdf