Where all the climate bills are at as the legislature wraps

Written by Matt Jackson

May 5, 2023

A small group of people gather, representing the Alaska Climate Alliance, in the Dimond Courthouse plaza across the street from the Alaska Capitol in Juneau. Some carry signs. There is some snow on the ground still.The complete rundown on Thursday’s virtual town hall with the Alaska Climate Alliance

We are entering the final weeks of Alaska’s legislative session this year, so these are the final weeks for our climate bills to move forward before 2024.

We’ve made it a long way and have a couple unexpected wins to celebrate, but we haven’t made it to the end of the session yet.

To help us finish strong, SEACC and the Alaska Climate Alliance hosted a virtual town hall Thursday night running down each of these bills and how we can take action to get them across the finish line.

You can watch the recording, but here’s a recap:

The Renewable Energy Fund Extension HB62/SB33
Status: Waiting on a concurrence vote in the House
The Senate upped the ante on HB62 by passing a version that would make the Renewable Energy Fund permanent and the House concurred, but that doesn’t address its funding level. The current budget proposes a measly $1.4 million, only enough for about 5 percent of the Alaska Energy Authority’s recommended project list. We’re asking for $25 million, which would cover the entire recommended project list.

The Green Bank HB154/SB125
Status: Waiting in Finance Committees
This bill closely mirrors the green bank bill introduced in 2022, with modifications to better match the National Green Bank program being administered by the EPA, and moving the bank into the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. It’s been voted out of the House Energy committee but is awaiting hearings in both House and Senate finance committees. It’s currently funded in the most recent Senate budget, which is good news!

Renewable Portfolio Standard HB121/SB101
Status: Heard in House Energy, being heard in House and Senate Finance
The Renewable Portfolio Standard would mostly affect railbelt utilities from Homer to Fairbanks, but it includes two provisions that would have big impacts on Power Cost Equalization communities from Prince of Wales to Klukwan. First, it allows railbelt utilities to meet their renewable portfolio goals in part by buying credits from PCE communities. This is good because PCE communities are very small compared to the Railbelt, so they’ll barely make a dent in the RPS goals, but they could benefit a lot  from renewable energy credits. Second, it fixes a waste heat loophole in the PCE formula, basically providing for a more efficient subsidy for PCE communities. These two PCE provisions moved the RPS bill from something I was watching passively to something I’m actively rooting for — and since I haven’t shared as much about this bill, I wanted to direct you to the Alaska Climate Alliance’s online action supporting it!

A close up photo shows decorative stonework on the Alaska Capitol facade with the words "Alaska State Capitol" etched into the stone.

Crossing the Finish Line
Here’s the secret sauce to getting these bills passed — call your senator! Senators Stedman and Kiehl are both on the influential Finance Committee, so wherever you live in Southeast (or beyond), call your Senator now and leave a voicemail supporting these three policies. Seriously, do it! Stedman is 907-465-3873 and Kiehl is 907-465-4947. A personal activist tip: ever since I added my legislators’ numbers to my phone’s contact list, I call them much more often. So dial those numbers right now and add them to your contacts.

That’s all for now, folks! I’ll be back in June with my summary of the legislature and a dash of good news!

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