Tag Archives: Fairbanks North Star Borough

Study: Unhealthy air in Fairbanks linked to rise in hospital visits

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, August 31, 2010:

Hospital visits for heart disease, stroke and lung afflictions in Fairbanks rise as the air quality deteriorates, according to new study by the state of Alaska.

A researcher with the state Section of Epidemiology combed over five years of records at the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. She found that for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase of a harmful pollutant known as PM2.5:

• a 7 percent increased risk that someone under age 65 will visit the hospital because of stroke symptoms,

• a 6 percent increased risk for people over age 65,

• a 6 percent increased risk that someone under 65 will visit the hospital for a respiratory illness.

The examination of hospital visits is the first study looking at air quality health impacts in Fairbanks.

Other studies show that wood smoke is a major contributor to PM2.5.

“Basically, this study reaffirms what has already been demonstrated in similar studies performed outside of Alaska,” the study’s author, epidemiologist Rachel Kossover, said in a written statement. “People with heart and lung problems need to take air quality warnings seriously and follow the advice of local officials.”

Fairbanks borough begins its wood stove trade-in program

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Monday, August 2, 2010:

The borough began taking applications last week for its wood stove repair and replacement program.

“The program is up and operational,” air quality director Glenn Miller said.

Applications are available at the borough air quality office on Peger Road.

The program is still evolving, and applications won’t be available on the borough website until final modifications are made, Miller said.

Qualifying residents will receive government assistance replacing outdoor wood boilers and old wood stoves for cleaner-burning models approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Cash payouts and tax credits are available to those who switch to gas or oil heat.

The program is part of a larger endeavor to improve the air in Fairbanks.

Heating debate for Fairbanks' wood stoves nears decision

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Monday, August 2, 2010:

The Borough Clerk last week compiled ballot language for the home heating initiative.

Fairbanks North Star Borough voters on Oct. 5 will be asked to vote yes or no on the following statement: “The borough shall not ban, prohibit, or fine residents for the use of home heating devices.”

If the ballot measure passes, the outcome is a matter of debate.

The Borough Attorney said she won’t issue a legal opinion on the measure unless the voters approve it.

Sponsors say their goal is to repeal regulations on home heating devices, but some local leaders think approval of the ballot measure effectively would turn over air quality enforcement to the state.

Fairbanks Borough Assembly gives it approval to plan to truck liquefied gas

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, July 30, 2010:

The Borough Assembly passed a resolution approving the port authority’s plan to purchase Fairbanks Natural Gas LLC and launch a natural gas trucking operation.

A separate measure calling for a public vote on the plan narrowly failed.

The $250 million project now goes before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

“People are waiting for energy relief,” Assemblywoman Kelly Brown said. “I don’t believe they need to wait anymore.”

Architects of the plan include municipal officials who belong to the Alaska Gasline Port Authority’s board of directors. The agency is backed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the city of Valdez.

They say the trucking operation will result in a 25 percent drop in natural gas prices in Fairbanks and a 6 percent drop in electric bills.

Continue reading: Fairbanks Borough Assembly gives it approval to plan to truck liquefied gas

Criticism mounts for call to truck liquefied natural gas to Fairbanks

From The Fairbanks Daily Newsminer, Thursday, July 29, 2010:

A plan to transfer Fairbanks Natural Gas LLC from private to public ownership and truck liquefied natural gas to Fairbanks from the North Slope is doomed, according to an Alaska Gasline Port Authority board member.

Board member Merrick Peirce wrote in an e-mail that the assumption behind the $250 million business deal — that crude oil prices will continue to rise — is flawed because more crude oil production is coming online in Iraq, increasing the world’s supply.

In interviews, other port authority board members defended the plan and refuted Peirce’s claims. They said the proposal, to be financed with bonds, provides the best possibility of quickly lowering energy prices in Fairbanks.

Decades of talk about building a natural gas pipeline have yet to produce results. “We have not given up on the pipeline,” said Dave Cobb, Valdez Councilman and vice chairman of the port authority governing board. “That is still our No. 1 priority, but you have to do something in the interim.”

The port authority is a partnership between the Fairbanks borough and the city of Valdez that was created to build a gas pipeline to Valdez. Peirce offered his criticism in an e-mail to the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly, which tonight considers a resolution to accept the authority’s proposed purchase of Fairbanks Natural Gas. The assembly also will consider an ordinance that would require a public vote to broaden the port authority’s mission statement before it goes ahead with the trucking plan.

Continue reading: Criticism mounts for call to truck liquefied natural gas to Fairbanks

Study finds more Fairbanks borough homes keep warm by burning wood than in 2006

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, July 13, 2010:

The number of people who heat with wood in the Fairbanks North Star Borough is slowly rising, a new study shows.

Researchers called 300 area households last winter and asked a series of questions, mostly regarding home heating habits.

They found the number of borough households using wood heat has gone up about 7 percent since 2006.

A breakdown by area shows wood heat is more popular in North Pole than any other ZIP code.

Borough administrators are using the survey results to help decide where to steer funding for a wood stove replacement program. Future studies will be used to gauge whether the local air pollution control program is working.

Continue reading: Study finds more Fairbanks borough homes keep warm by burning wood than in 2006

Borough Assembly member wants public vote on whether to truck liquefied natural gas to Fairbanks

From The Fairbanks Daily News Miner, Saturday, July 10, 2010:

Assemblyman Guy Sattley has drafted an ordinance requiring a public vote on the plan to truck liquefied natural gas to Fairbanks, but Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins said delaying the $250 million project is risky.

“If we stretch this timeline out,” Hopkins said Thursday at a Borough Assembly work session, “basically, the project is going to be very difficult to be financed in the way the port authority wants it to be.”

Hopkins, who belongs to the governing board of the Alaska Gasline Port Authority, said the main problem with delaying the project for a public vote is an expected rise in interest rates.

“As financing money begins to cost more, it could cost the project greater and greater amounts,” Hopkins said. “That would take away from the revenue stream.”

Fairbanks wood stove ballot question approved

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, July 10, 2010:

A ballot group succeeded in gaining the signatures to put a question to the Fairbanks area voters that, if approved, would reverse new air pollution regulations.

A Fairbanks North Star Borough canvassing board approved the signatures last week.

The question about whether the borough should be allowed to regulate home heating devices will appear on the Oct. 5 ballot, according to borough officials and a member of the ballot measure group. The group needed 2,379 signatures.

Rick VanderKolk, treasurer of the North Star Landowners, said the ballot measure group is raising money to publicize the measure, dubbed The Home Heating Protection Act.

If approved by the voters, the act states that “the borough shall not ban, prohibit or fine residents for the use of home heating devices.” It effectively reverses air pollution regulations passed last month and aimed at dense chimney smoke that puts out a harmful pollutant known as PM 2.5. The federal government has put the borough on notice to reduce levels of PM 2.5.

The ballot measure group is backed by Rep. Tammy Wilson, R-North Pole; businessman Craig Compeau; radio personality Michael Dukes and others.

Energy rating program still available for Alaska homeowners

By CCHRC Staff

The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.

Q: A lot of people are participating in the rebate program to make their home more energy efficient. I was under the impression that program had ended but it seems there are still people doing it. What is the case?

At this point, the rebate program is being sustained by money that was “set aside” for homeowners, but never collected — perhaps they decided not to continue with the program, did not make their 18-month deadlines or only collected $5,000 of the $10,000 the program set aside for them. In these cases, the money goes back into the “pot” and new participants are allowed in.

You can still get on the waiting list for an energy rating and participate in the program. When you sign up, Alaska housing will confirm there is funding available for your rebate. If there is, you will be assigned an energy rater. That person will come to your home and perform a blower door test to determine the efficiency of your home. Once you have the report and required documents, submit that to AHFC (Alaska Housing Finance Corp.) and the money will be set aside in your name.

As soon as you have your energy rating done you can start making improvements.

Those building or buying new homes can also still apply for the 5 Star Plus new construction rebate.

This part of the program gives homeowners a flat $7,500. These folks must call the PORTAL to get on the wait list for an application.

If there is money available, it will be encumbered for you after AHFC receives your application and a preliminary rating from your building plans, along with other required documents.

After you have completed your new home, or home improvements, you will submit a copy of your second energy rating along with the required documents and paperwork in order for AHFC to take that available money and release it to you within 60 business days.

If you want to sign up for the program, or have any questions, the PORTAL is available locally to answer questions about the rebate program. Its office is open at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, Monday through Friday (call 455-HEAT for an appointment). You can also sign up by visiting www.akrebate.com.

Q: I’m building a new home. Can I strategically orient my home in a way that will save me money?

The money-saving benefits from orienting a home center around passive heat gain. “Passive” means no mechanical system is producing the heat. Passive solar is a viable method of heating, as the sun just comes in through the windows and heats the home. Many south-facing lots in the Fairbanks North Star Borough see a decrease in oil usage when the sun comes back in late February and March. The same benefit takes place in the fall, but there is a more noticeable difference in spring because a homeowner can turn down the thermostat rather that up.

Facing a home towards the south and strategically placing windows on the south face of the home will maximize light intake and support passive heating.

Alaska HomeWise articles promote home awareness for the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC). If you have a question, e-mail us at akhomewise@cchrc.org.You can also call the CCHRC at (907) 457-3454.

Interior Alaska group can challenge wood stove regulations

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, June 26, 2010:

A local group opposed to a new borough ordinance that regulates the sale, installation and use of wood and coal stoves, has gathered enough signatures to challenge the ordinance.

North Star Landowners, sponsors of The Home Heating Protection Act, gathered more than 3,000 signatures for the petition, according to group treasurer Rick VanderKolk. A total of 2,379 qualified signatures are required before the initiative can be added to the October election ballot.

The petition books have been submitted to the Fairbanks North Star Borough municipal clerk’s office and will be reviewed next week.

“The signatures were collected rapidly. I hope this sends the Borough the clear message that air quality problems are isolated, not pervasive,” Rep. Tammie Wilson stated in an e-mail. Wilson is one of the initiative’s sponsors.

The borough ordinance, which also restricts chimney smoke emissions in an attempt to lower levels of a fine particulate pollution known as PM 2.5., was adopted June 10.