Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski says reducing the high cost of energy is the best way to promote economic growth in the state.
But she says the new focus on spending cuts in Washington, D.C. will mean less federal money to help build Alaska’s energy infrastructure.
“Federal support for R & D will continue,” Murkowski says. “But funding to actually help build out the facilities – like the government did when APA built the Snettisham and built the Eklutna hydroelectric projects – not going to come as easily as it has in the past.”
Murkowski was speaking Tuesday morning at the Alaska Rural Energy Conference in Juneau.
She suggested the State of Alaska, which currently enjoys a budget surplus thanks to oil tax revenues, could make up for some of the decline in federal spending. She also urged private industry to invest in Alaska energy projects.
“The private sector is working on a lot of new technologies that will need to be demonstrated on a smaller scale before expanding into larger markets. So we can be viewed as an opportunity for them,” says Murkowski. “I’ve always said, let us be the pilot projects up here in Alaska. If we can make it pencil out here where our energy costs are higher than anywhere in the country, think about what that demonstrates for the success of the project.”
The seventh annual Rural Energy Conference is going on through Thursday at Juneau’s Centennial Hall.