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Fairbanks utility says new natural gas storage tank will support system expansion

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Traveling To Alaska, the 49th State



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Fairbanks utility says new natural gas storage tank will support system expansion

was written by Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks , 2019-10-10 20:41:23

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A crane maneuvers the lid of the IGU’s 5.25-million-gallon tank into place in 2018. Work on the tank project is expected to be completed next month.
(Photo credit KUAC)

Construction of a big natural gas storage tank in Fairbanks is nearing completion. And officials with the utility that’s been trying to persuade people in the Fairbanks area to convert to gas for home heating say the tank will help them attract those customers.

The chief executive of the Interior Gas Utility’s says when the IGU’s big 5.25 million-gallon LNG storage tank is completed next month, the utility that provides natural gas to Fairbanks will finally be able to resume expanding its customer base.

“We’ve not been able to add customers for years because of our supply constraints,” General Manager Dan Britton said in an interview Tuesday. “And so, with this new tank, it’s the first time in a long time that we’ll be able add firm customers again.”

Britton says the tank on the city’s south side will hold enough LNG to serve its existing customers for about 80 days. He says that timeframe will shrink as the IGU adds more customers — a process he says will resume once the big tank is filled by a steady stream of big tanker trucks hauling LNG from facilities in Southcentral. But he says utility officials are still considering transporting some gas in railroad tankers.

“Long-term,” he said, “we’ll continue to evaluate the opportunity for moving some of the product by rail, but at this time we’re moving by truck.”

Britton says completion of the tank will qualify the utility for $15 million storage tax credit, which would come in the form of a payment if approved by the Legislature and governor. He says the IGU also will now begin building more service lines to bring gas from the bigger main lines that the utility installed a few years ago around Fairbanks, although that work will stop once the ground freezes hard and then resume when it warms back up next summer.

“In 2014 and ’15,” he said. “Both in Fairbanks and North Pole, we added a substantial amount of distribution mains, approximately 140 miles, between the two. And so the main lines are just waiting for the service lines to new customers.”

Britton says the IGU installed service lines to about 50 Fairbanks customers over the summer. And he says the utility will begin installing them in North Pole once it completes work on a 150,000-gallon storage facility near the old North Pole refinery. He says site work at that facility will begin soon, and if all goes well the facility should be completed within a year.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough launched the IGU in 2012 with loans and grants from the state and other assistance from the Alaska Industrial Development Authority. It’s intended to provide a cheaper, cleaner-burning replacement for fuel oil as the main source of heat for Fairbanks-area residents’ homes and businesses.

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A Vacation In Alaska

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Chugach National Forest. Only a third as large as Tongass National Forest, in Southeast Alaska, Chugach is nevertheless the second-largest national forest in the country and a remarkable combination of forests, rivers, lakes, mountains and glaciers. Nearly the size of New Hampshire, Chugach includes a geographic variety that is truly unique amongst national forests. The 5,940,000-acre forest is spread out across three distinct landscapes, stretching from the Kenai Peninsula east across Prince William Sound to include the Gulf Coast bordering the Copper River Delta, then east from there as far as the Bering Glacier. Wildlife is plentiful particularly for all who take the time to walk from the roadways and highways. Black and brown bear occupy almost all of the forest, foraging on open tundra slopes and within intertidal zones. In late summer time, bears have been observed feeding upon spawned-out salmon along streams and rivers. Record-size moose dwell in the Kenai Peninsula and the Copper River Delta. Dall sheep can be seen on Kenai Peninsula mountainsides, mountain goats are found on steep hillsides along Prince William Sound, the Copper River Delta and from time to time above Portage Valley. Boaters and kayakers in Prince William Sound may see Dall porpoises, harbor seals, sea otters, sea lions, Orcas and humpback whales. More than 214 species of resident and migratory birds occupy Chugach National Forest. Seabirds, which include blacklegged kittiwakes, nest within sea cliff colonies by the thousands. Ptarmigan scurry over alpine tundra, bald eagles perch on shoreline snags and Steller’s jays forage around the underbrush. The Copper River Delta protects one of the largest known concentrations of nesting trumpeter swans in North America in addition to the total population of dusky Canada geese. Nesting waterfowl are joined in springtime and fall by countless numbers of migrating shorebirds. Chugach offers a variety of sportfishing opportunities; fishermen can cast for rainbow, lake and cutthroat trout along with Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling and all 5 species of Pacific salmon. Many of the fisheries are easy to get to; roadside lakes and rivers are all around giving anglers a chance to fish without needing a boat. Chugach’s most noted fishery is the red salmon run of the Russian River in which fishermen are often standing elbow-to-elbow along the river bank in July and July. Chugach is one of the handful of spots remaining in the world where glaciers spill out of the mountains and into the seas. When combined with the Bagley Icefield from which it originates, Bering Glacier is bigger than Switzerland. Columbia Glacier is one of the largest tidewater glaciers in the world while Portage Glacier and it’s Begich-Boggs Visitor Center is actually one of the most widely used stops for vacationers in Alaska.

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A Vacation In Chugach National Forest in Alaska