One of the barriers to some people embracing the flow of natural gas to Homer homes is the cost of replacing appliances, particularly their heating systems. A bill currently making its way through the Alaska House of Representatives would help with some of those concerns.
House Bill 35 would provide low-interest loans to homeowners across the state who want to improve or replace their heating systems. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, would provide homeowners with an opportunity to receive a one-time loan of up to $15,000. The loan would be repaid over 10 years and carry a 1 percent interest rate.
The Homer City Council earlier this month expressed its support for the measure, noting the expense of converting to natural gas will prevent many residents from being able to realize its benefits, as a cleaner and cheaper source of heating fuel than most residents currently enjoy.
Also weighing in with support of the measure are Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members Bill Smith, who represents Homer, and Mako Haggerty, who represents the southern peninsula. The Alaska Commission on Aging also supports the bill.
For her part, Rep. Wilson recognizes that a lot of Alaskans are cash strapped. She doesn't want to add to their financial burden. Being able to tap into a less expensive source of energy without a big outlay of cash upfront has the potential to help those who might not otherwise be able to afford the conversion to natural gas right away.
As Katie Koester, the city's community and economic development coordinator, notes: "This is a mechanism for them to experience the savings. And once they experience the savings, they can pay back the loan and start putting those dollars toward other needs."
House Bill 35 sounds like a practical way for the state to invest in Alaskans.
If you agree, the House Finance Committee is scheduled to consider the bill today at 1:30 p.m. The public may participate in the meeting via teleconference at the Homer Legislative Information Office, 270 W. Pioneer Ave. Or you can email members of the committee. For key email addresses, see page 6 of today's newspaper.
Do it: Enjoy winter
Before you know it, spring will be here without some of us taking the time to enjoy winter. Like Homer's Winter Carnival, Anchor Point's Snow Rondi, which starts tonight, provides lots of family-friendly fun ways to experience the season. With everything from the annual Pinewood Derby to the Mountain Man Classic, the Rondi is a great way to connect with neighbors and get out of the house for some fresh air.
Events like these don't just happen. It takes a lot of volunteer time to provide others with a good time. And the best thanks? People showing up and having a good time.
For a look at what's happening in Anchor Point this weekend, see pages 14-15.