Category Archives: Legislation and Policy

Deadline for Federal Tax Credit on Energy Efficiency Upgrades Nears

There is only one month left to purchase and install items that qualify for the Federal Tax Credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency.

As a reminder, these items need to be both purchased and installed by December 31, 2010.


To qualify for the tax credit, the product needs to be “placed in service” by December 31, 2010. The IRS defines “placed in service” as when the property is ready and available for use. It’s not when you purchase product, but the day installation is complete, and you are able to use your new product.

These tax credits will be claimed on your 2010 taxes (which you must file by April 15, 2011).

For more information, visit

U.S. Needs Critical Boost in Energy Research, Panel Tells Obama

From The New York Times, Wednesday, December 1, 2010:

The United States needs to more than triple its spending on energy research, development and demonstration projects, from about $5 billion now to $16 billion, and should institute a strategic review of national energy policy every four years, an advisory group of scientists and engineers said in a report to President Obama this week.

The United States lags behind other industrialized countries in public support for energy research and risks being overtaken in the development of new energy technologies if added support is not forthcoming, the group warned in the report, by the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. Security concerns arising from an overreliance on foreign oil and the environmental threat of climate change must also be addressed in a more comprehensive way, the report said.

Continue reading: U.S. Needs Critical Boost in Energy Research, Panel Tells Obama

Healy coal plant slides off restart timeline

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, November 23, 2010:

Restart plans for a dormant coal plant in Healy have slipped off schedule again. The proposed owner, Golden Valley Electric Association, said signs of progress still offer hope.

State environmental managers pulled permitting plans for the unit, dubbed the Healy Clean Coal Project, from a federal review desk in September.

The decision offered the federal Environmental Protection Agency more time for discussion, the state and GVEA explained following the decision. Brian Newton, CEO of GVEA, said at the time the decision reflected a “good sign” federal regulators wanted to clear the plan eventually.

Newton said the same Monday, even as the restart plan’s timeline appeared to backpedal again.

State environmental managers, carrying the proposal on behalf of GVEA, had suggested two months ago they’d likely resubmit the plans in November. Newton said Monday it will instead take weeks longer.

Fairbanks borough regulations fading on wood smoke ordinance

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sunday, November 21, 2010:

A new air quality measure by the Fairbanks borough mayor scales back regulations on wood smoke emissions but maintains a prohibition on the installation of old, dirty stoves.

The regulations on smoke emissions were set to go into effect next fall.

The ordinance on Monday goes before the Air Pollution Control Commission, an advisory panel to Mayor Luke Hopkins.

Hopkins said he wants rules on the installation of uncertified stoves to continue because the ballot proposition prompting his new air quality ordinance referred to the use of home heating devices and not their installation.

“We are still limiting the stoves so that we don’t keep digging ourselves in a hole,” the mayor said.

Emissions from increased wood burning in the borough include a tiny but toxic particulate known as PM 2.5, and the federal government has put Fairbanks on notice to reduce levels of PM 2.5 by 2014.

Fairbanks borough requests state subsidies for heating change-outs

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Monday, November 22, 2010:

Hundreds of residents are showing interest in subsidies to upgrade to cleaner-burning home heating systems, according to the borough. So the Borough Assembly last week asked the state Legislature for $5 million to keep things rolling.

The incentive program, started with $1 million of federal seed money, is a response to chronic air pollution in Fairbanks. Health and air pollution officials from the local level to the Environmental Protection Agency have various interests in stamping out chronic wintertime air pollution. Studies consistently point to wood-fed heating as a major culprit.

The seed grant, from the 2009 federal recovery act, will mean hundreds of new heating systems, but Mayor Luke Hopkins said Friday many more people are expected to apply. 

Clean air and the cost of freedom

From Alaska Dispatch, Wednesday, October 20, 2010:

The people of Fairbanks spoke loudly and clearly at the polls this year: They didn’t want government dictating to them what could come out of the smokestacks atop their homes.

Enforcing standards for clean-air for everyone, voters decided, reeked of socialism — that policy of ensuring the needs of the many trump the desire of the individual. It is not a popular political philosophy in these tea-party days, especially in Alaska where it has never been a very popular philosophy.

Fairbanks is, after all, the home of the late Joe Vogler, founder of the Alaskan Independence Party, who thought the whole of America too socialist almost 40 years ago when the federal bureaucracy was but a shadow of what it is today. So it came as no big surprise when Fairbanks voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative blocking a North Star Borough plan to fine people for polluting the air with woodsmoke.

Unfortunately, the end result of that vote is that people are likely to pollute the air with woodsmoke again this winter and borough officials are having a devil of a time trying to figure out what to do about it.

Continue reading: Clean air and the cost of freedom

Future of Interior Alaska energy leads District 10 race between John Brown, Steve Thompson

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, October 19, 2010:

There’s an obvious theme in the campaign for House District 10, and even the two candidates involved say it’s hard to overlook.

Both Democrat John Brown and Republican Steve Thompson say energy is the issue that contributes to most of the challenges that Fairbanks residents face. It costs too much to heat a home or business in the Interior, they agree, which in turn leads to barriers to job creation, employment and basic quality of life.

Brown and Thompson have heard it plenty when they talk to constituents in District 10, which includes east Fairbanks and Fort Wainwright.

“You’re knocking on doors, and people are saying ‘We’re moving, we can’t afford to live here anymore,’” Thompson said. “That’s not good.”

AHFC’s Home Energy Rebate Program Receives National Recognition

From Alaska Housing Finance Corporation:

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently announced that AHFC’s Home Energy Rebate Program is one of the exceptional state-led energy-efficiency programs in the United States. ACEEE recognized a total of just 18 top programs from 14 states. AHFC’s Home Energy Rebate Program received one of 10 honorable mentions awarded.Alaska’s Home Energy Rebate Program helps homeowners reduce energy costs by providing rebates toward the cost of energy-efficiency improvements. Energy ratings are required before and after improvements. Homeowners pay all costs upfront, and the rebate is paid out based on increased energy efficiency and eligible receipts. The maximum rebate is $10,000. Homeowners have 18 months to complete the program.

Dan Fauske, AHFC CEO/Executive, said, “Our calculations show people reduce energy use by about 30 percent and save nearly $1,600 a year on average. We are thrilled to be recognized for successfully rolling out this program in an extremely short timeframe. Although we had some bumps along the road, the response from those completing the program has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Continue reading: AHFC’s Home Energy Rebate Program Receives National Recognition

Agency Seeks to Tighten Rules for ‘Green’ Labeling

From The New York Times, Wednesday, October 6, 2010:

Manufacturers of products that claim to be environmentally friendly will face tighter rules on how they are advertised to consumers under changes proposed Wednesday by the Federal Trade Commission.

The commission’s revised “Green Guides,” last updated in 1998, warn marketers against using labels that make broad claims that cannot be substantiated, like “eco-friendly.” Marketers must qualify their claims on the product packaging and limit them to a specific benefit, such as how much of the product is recycled.

“This is really about trying to cut through the confusion that consumers have when they are buying a product and that businesses have when they are selling a product,” said Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the commission.

Continue reading: Agency Seeks to Tighten Rules for ‘Green’ Labeling

Fairbanks voters reject home heating fines for wood smoke

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Wednesday, October 6, 2010:

Anyone worried about getting slapped with a home-heating fine can sleep a little easier.

Voters on Tuesday blocked the ability of Fairbanks North Star Borough managers to rely partly on fines as they implement a new pollution-prevention program.

Questions remain, however, over whether the ballot measure will clear state laws and exactly how the result — 60 percent of voters approved the measure — will take shape at the assembly’s desk.

Studies suggest Fairbanks’ chronic air pollution is due largely to older or less-efficient wood-fed home heating systems. The pollution-control program, approved narrowly by the Borough Assembly this summer, includes carrots and sticks: Incentives, including tax breaks, for trading up to more efficient systems and potential fines for the worst polluters.

Tuesday’s measure, born as a public initiative, directs local government to drop the second avenue, leaving incentives and public education plans in place. It does not, however, directly change local laws, leaving Mayor Luke Hopkins and the nine-member assembly the task of applying the mandate.