We are familiar with races against time in Alaska: think of the Serum Run of 1925, where brave mushers relayed diphtheria antitoxin to the people of Nome through minus eighty temperatures to save the population from devastation by the spreading epidemic. Think of a salmon season when millions of fish pass through a fishing district at the peak of the run and fisherfolk catch as much as they can hold because soon the peak will pass. Think of all the birds and beasts out there feasting furiously in the months of light to get enough fat for winter or migration. Think of the end of the legislative session when staff and lawmakers endure marathon floor sessions, often all night long, trying to get their priorities addressed before the last gavel falls.
The home stretch is before our lawmakers, the end is nigh (May 17th), and it is motivation enough to move some bills along. The obvious trouble is that 60 legislators and a governor are shepherding bills forward with numerous pinch points and gates along the way. Only eight bills have passed the legislature so far this session. We can expect a few more but not many. Traffic is backed up for miles.
The Governor’s bills to establish an Energy Independence Fund (aka a Green Bank), HB 154 and SB 125 are in the House and Senate Finance Committees. It is crucial these bills pass the legislature this session for a few reasons. States with established Green Banks are in a more competitive position to receive federal funding for clean energy programs under the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Funds are to be allocated by September 2024. Since it will take time for the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to establish the Green Bank after it is signed into law, it makes great sense for the legislature to act now. The next twelve days could determine whether we are eligible and prepared for a massive investment in clean energy and transportation projects that will save Alaskans billions of dollars on electric, home heating, gasoline, diesel, and car maintenance bills. No pressure!
Federal investment tax credits for renewable energy projects were extended for a ten-year period under the Inflation Reduction Act. Another clear reason for the AK Legislature to pass a Green Bank this year is that the clock is ticking on the decade of available tax credits. These are significant, historic tax credits. With a Green Bank to provide low-interest financing and tax credits to incentivize purchases, energy efficiency construction projects, and rooftop and community solar projects will skyrocket in Alaska, providing good-paying jobs. By not moving the Green Bank bills this year, another year in the life of the IRA tax credits will be gone.
The race is on. Tell the House and Senate Finance Committees to prioritize HB 154 and SB 125 this session. Time is money, as they say.
The Alaska Center
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