President Signs Alaska Remote Generator Bill into Law
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Donald J. Trump signed S. 163, the Alaska Remote Generator Reliability and Protection Act. This legislation, introduced by U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Alaska Congressman Don Young (R-AK), and co-sponsored by Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), relaxes stringent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission regulations for generators used in remote Alaska to allow residents in these communities to reliably and affordably power their villages.
“Prior to this bill being signed into law, rural communities in Alaska that were isolated from the power grid were shouldered with overly burdensome federal rules that jeopardized access to reliable and cost-effective electricity,” said Senator Sullivan. “I want to thank the President for signing this bill into law to help ensure that rural Alaskans can safely heat and power their homes in time for the quickly approaching winter season.”
In remote areas of Alaska, nearly 100 percent of the electricity used in villages is supplied by diesel fuel. Many villages rely on diesel generators that are between 10 and 30 years old. These systems do not last forever and many small utilities are looking for ways they can purchase new generator sets to improve efficiency and reduce the maintenance costs of worn out engines.
Under the current regulations, which set specific standards for diesel generators in “remote Alaska,” all new generator sets that are not connected to the federal highway system must install certain emissions controls on their new engines. Based on recent information from the EPA and Alaska state officials, there are credible reports that these emission control technologies are having difficulties working in remote areas of Alaska.
Additionally, if anything goes wrong with certain control devices, the generator shuts down. Only a factory-trained service technician with the proper codes can fix the problem. In remote Alaska, these technicians are at least one to two days out and extremely expensive. It is not uncommon, especially in the fall and winter, for villages to be without flights due to weather or extreme cold for multiple days or weeks. If a failure in the powerhouse occurs during one of these times, the village could suffer significant damage to its infrastructure and potentially lead to the loss of life.
This law adjusts regulations so that generators in rural Alaska can function more efficiently and reliably.
Congressman Young is the sponsor of H.R. 422, companion legislation to S. 136.