Alaska Legislature Grapples with Energy Legislation as Session Nears End

Alaska Legislature Grapples with Energy Legislation as Session Nears End

May 3, 2023

As the Alaska Legislature barrels toward the end of its regular session, several energy bills are among those being debated in Juneau.

As we’ve previously reported, there are two worth keeping an eye on, as they would fundamentally change Alaska’s energy future if passed.

Anti-oil legislators believe Alaska isn’t receiving its ‘fair share’ of revenues from producers, so they’re pushing Senate Bill 114 to overhaul the underlying tax structure.  It would cut in half the per-barrel tax credits given to producers, as well as establish ‘ring fencing’ around projects, so that operating losses from one project can’t be used to offset profits from another. Yet another section would establish the same tax rate for all producers, regardless of the way they’re organized between ‘S-corporations’ or ‘C-corporations’. 

The bill had a hearing this week in Senate Finance, where legislators heard of the risks of passing the legislation on future investment, jobs and ongoing state revenues.  Although there is pressure on lawmakers to move this forward, there is little chance it happens this year.  That would be positive, as the bill would harm Alaska.

The second piece of legislation that pro-energy, pro-Alaska, pro-common-sense lawmakers should scuttle immediately is Senate Bill 101, which would establish a risky set of mandates on electricity generation in Alaska’s Railbelt. Known better as a ‘Renewable Portfolio Standard’ (or RPS), this anti-free-market bill would require – with penalties for non-adherence – 80% of the electrical grid to run on renewables by 2040.  Currently, that number is somewhere around 15%, and the same politicians and radical environmental groups pushing RPS have fought both hydroelectric and micro-nuclear projects previously. 

Those pushing RPS want the majority of Alaska to depend on wind and solar – neither of which are reliable in our climate and with our weather patterns – to power our grid.  That’s a risky proposition at best, and life-threatening in practice. 

On last night’s Power The Future Energy Hour, Speaker of the House Cathy Tilton told PTF’s Alaska State Director Rick Whitbeck that RPS had “zero” chance of advancing past her chamber this year.  Keep up the good work, Speaker Tilton.  Alaska will thank you and your caucus for taking that stance, rather than subjecting us to higher-cost, lower-reliable renewable energy ‘solutions’ that Senate Bill 101 would mandate.