From the News Miner

JUNEAU — The new goal for Fairbanks’ first liquefied natural gas delivery through the Interior Energy Project is late 2017, with residential customers expected to start converting mostly in 2018.

Earlier versions of the project had an estimated delivery date in 2015, but that slipped as costs came in higher than initial estimates and the project missed deadlines.

The Interior Energy Project officials discussed the updated timeline as part of a progress report to the House Special Committee on Energy on Tuesday. The state recently announced it had selected Washington-based Avista Corp. subsidiary Salix to partner on a Cook Inlet-area gas liquefaction plant to source the gas.

Interior Energy Project team lead Gene Therriault said the agreement with Salix should be finalized by June, allowing preliminary work to start at the Cook Inlet site this summer and fall.

Parts that require a long lead time to procure would be ready for construction next summer, he said.

The committee was less skeptical about the project than the Legislature was last year, when a North Slope-focused plan fell apart and the state essentially hit the restart button on the project. That turned into a feud between some legislators and Gov. Bill Walker that resulted in legislation that freed up the focus of the project and added regular reporting to the Legislature.

Energy Committee members had questions about the cost of the project and its competitiveness with oil.

Therriault said it’s a matter that project members are watching closely. The target price for 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas is $15, which is roughly equivalent to heating oil at $2 per gallon.

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