PETERSBURG (AP) -- A bill authorizing the sale of four state-owned hydroelectric plants to provide money for rural power subsidies was signed into law Thursday.
House Bill 446, introduced by Gov. Tony Knowles, allows the sale of hydroelectric projects in Petersburg-Wrangell, Kodiak, Valdez, and Ketchikan to their respective communities for $73 million.
The bill was intended to provide more local control to the communities, and help endow a fund to pay for Power Cost Equalization, the subsidies that offset high power costs in the Bush.
''Affordable, stable energy is vital to Alaska's economic growth and to individual lives,'' Knowles said at a signing ceremony in Petersburg. ''I think this divestiture to the people of Petersburg and the other Four Dam Pool communities will afford the local control that can benefit residents of these communities for decades to come.''
Next week in Kotzebue, Knowles plans to sign a companion bill that appropriates this sale money, and an additional $100 million that the Legislature added from the Constitutional Budget Reserve, to the PCE Endowment.
The endowment will contain nearly $187 million which will contribute most of the $15.7 million annual cost of the subsidy.
Although the bill passed the Legislature less than a month after Knowles introduced it, local communities have been trying to buy the projects for years.
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