Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS — Gov. Bill Walker, following up on a campaign pledge, ordered state agencies Friday to focus their energies on cutting energy costs for Alaskans.

In an executive order signed while on a trip to Fairbanks, Walker called on state agencies to do whatever they can to help Alaskans deal with energy prices, which he said have had a severe impact on people in many parts of the state.

During his campaign, Walker said he wanted to focus attention on the energy problem. He directed the head of the state Department of Commerce to take the lead to improve collaboration and coordination on energy issues for consumers.

Walker said Friday he wants the commissioner to "bring the appropriate parties together to find solutions for reducing Alaska's energy costs."...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Thursday that she was “aghast” by the ruling of a federal personnel board that upheld the appeals of two prosecutors from Alaska who argued they did not deserve suspensions for the handling of the corruption case against the late Sen. Ted Stevens...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- The wheels may have fallen off the plan to truck natural gas to Fairbanks from the North Slope, but proponents are hoping to build momentum for another try -- expanding the list of possible energy sources this time to include Cook Inlet.

The board of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority approved plans Wednesday to spend up to $700,000 to evaluate alternative plans of getting energy to Interior Alaska from the North Slope, Cook Inlet “or other locations as well as the use of energy sources other than natural gas.”...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- The " ISER Interactive Fiscal Policy Model V1 " worksheet and game allows Alaskans to try to overcome -- or at least understand -- the state's fiscal challenges by plugging in changing assumptions and charting the course of future finances...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- The three oil companies that own the trans-Alaska pipeline are putting a lid on plans to remove the tops of four giant empty storage tanks at the Valdez terminal, citing opposition from Tesoro.

"Removal of the tank roofs will reduce personnel safety risks associated with winter snow removal activities," the companies said in December, adding they wanted to avoid "tank top deformation." With an average of about 300 inches of snow each year in Valdez, the one-acre topside of each tank has to be periodically cleared by 10-member crews with shovels and scoops...

Dermot Cole

In the midst of a steep decline in world oil prices, CH2M Hill has scrapped plans to look for a buyer of its oil-field services operation in Alaska and on Sakhalin Island in Russia, the company said Wednesday.

“The preliminary offers that CH2M Hill has received do not adequately reflect the company’s assessment of the inherent value of the business. Therefore, in the long-term best interests of our employees, clients, and stockholders CH2M Hill has decided to discontinue the divestiture process,” said Patrick O’Keefe, United States managing director for the company...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS—The University of Alaska system is poised to shed programs and shrink with falling oil prices, preparing for budget cuts that are likely to eliminate hundreds of jobs at campuses across the state.

In a preview of what's to come at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers told the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday that spending reductions are likely to mean a loss of 200 to 250 full and part-time jobs over the next year, through a combination of attrition and layoffs.

“We’re going to be a smaller institution than we are today,” Rogers said of the months to come. “But we do think there’s an opportunity for us to not go away crying, but really build an institution that’s resilient."...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- Projections about how much Alaska state government can afford to spend, while at the same time preserving a sizable chunk of its oil wealth for the future, continue to slide along with the price of petroleum.

The Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage plans to publish an update of its “maximum sustainable yield” calculation this week, trimming the recommended spending target by $500 million to $4.5 billion...

Dermot Cole

BP America President John Minge said last week that “despite what you see in the papers,” his company is paying more in Alaska oil production taxes than it is collecting in state tax credits.

But there were no papers containing the claim that Minge took pains to knock down Friday in his speech to the Alaska Support Industry Alliance...

Dermot Cole

The Alaska Aerospace Corp. agreed to return $22 million of an unspent grant to the state, the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. said it would cut spending by $90 million over the next 16 months, and the state transportation department said canceling two major highway projects in Anchorage and Juneau could mean federal penalties.

Those are among the key issues in status reports released Friday following the Dec. 24 order by Gov. Bill Walker to temporarily halt “discretionary expenditures” on five major projects. A report on the Susitna hydroelectric project is expected next week.

The governor's office said Walker is reviewing the projects to decide what steps to take next in light of the state's multibillion-dollar deficit...

Dermot Cole,Pat Forgey

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