Gov. Sean Parnell

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Community Perspective

FAIRBANKS — With natural gas delivery to Fairbanks on the horizon, I am extremely proud of the work we have accomplished on the Interior Energy Project (IEP). As I leave office, the IEP is on track to deliver natural gas to Fairbanks residents by 2016.

This would not have been possible without the good work of so many, including the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), Alaska Legislature, Fairbanks North Star Borough and many Alaskans.

Alaska is on the fast track to make this gas trucking project a reality. Just 18 months ago, legislation I introduced passed the Legislature unanimously, authorizing AIDEA to provide the financing package to partner with the private sector to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on the North Slope and a natural gas heating distribution system in Fairbanks and North Pole.

Since then, significant progress has been made. Just months after the passage of Senate Bill 23, a concession agreement was signed establishing the legal and financial framework for Northern Lights Energy, LLC. Northern Lights has the authority to move forward with negotiating gas purchase agreements with Interior utilities.

Today, construction of the North Slope gravel pad and access road construction for the liquefaction plant are complete. That required 4,000 truckloads of gravel this past summer.

All permits needed to build the LNG plant on the North Slope are in place. More than 29 miles of pipe have been installed around Fairbanks. The Interior Gas Utility has placed an order for 80 miles of pipe to complete the first phase of its distribution build-out around the North Pole area this coming spring.

AIDEA is now working toward a financial close this month.

I am proud of the efforts of thousands of Alaskans who understand a good plan, executed now, is better than a perfect plan that never gets off the ground. Getting natural gas to the Interior is crucial for keeping Golden Heart City homes and businesses warm.

I hope the new governor and legislators will stay the course with Alaskans and bring the natural gas trucking solution to Fairbanks, build out the distribution lines and realize the benefits lower energy costs will bring to the Interior.

We’ve come far; milestone after milestone has been met. Let’s not stop working toward completion of this key infrastructure project to bring natural gas to Interior Alaska at the lowest possible cost, to as many customers as possible, as soon as possible.

It has been an honor to lay the foundation for cheaper energy to the Interior. We’ve completed the agreements, moved dirt for construction of this remarkable project, which remains very viable as we end 2014. The Interior’s future looks very bright.

Gov. Sean Parnell is the governor of the state of Alaska. He has served as the state’s governor from 2009-2014.