Gov. Dunleavy signs Power Cost Equalization Bill

In an effort to support rural Alaska residents who utilize the state’s Power Cost Equalization (PCE) relief, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy signed Senator Lyman Hoffman’s Senate Bill 243 (SB 243) last week (July 19, 2022), raising the maximum kilowatt-hour (kWh) available to residential customers from 500 kWh to 750 kWh per month.

“For many years I lived in rural Alaska, where I worked as an educator, met my wife, and raised three daughters. I know firsthand the challenges our communities off the road system face in terms of cost of living. Today, we are faced with the highest inflation rates we have seen in 40 years. Alaskan families – especially those in rural Alaska – are struggling to keep up with rising costs of gasoline, foods, and basic goods,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy. “I am pleased to sign HB 243 to assist those who live in rural Alaska and face extremely high utility rates. Raising the maximum kilowatt hour available for PCE relief will help lessen the burden on our rural residents.”

“The PCE program serves as a crucial lifeline for rural Alaskans as it helps bridge the gap in the cost of energy between urban and rural Alaska,” said Alaska Energy Authority Executive Director Curtis W. Thayer. “This legislation reaffirms the Legislature and Governor’s strong commitment to rural Alaska with this increase in PCE payments by up to 50 percent.”

Alaska’s PCE program was established in 1985 to provide economic assistance to communities and residents of rural electric utilities where the cost of electricity is three to five times higher than costs in urban areas of the state. The PCE program is funded by the earnings of the PCE Endowment Fund and subsidizes utilities for nearly 200 communities and nearly 82,000 residents. SB 243 raises the ceiling to 750 kWh, restoring it to levels available from 1985-1993. Additionally, the bill updates the PCE Endowment Fund from a 4% nominal return to a prudent investment rule, allowing the fund to be managed with care to circumstances and preservation of purchasing power over time to maximize the expected total return from the fund.

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