Both states are interested but achieving the goal would be costly, complex.
For more than a year, some Alaska political leaders have been quietly pursuing an untapped market for the state’s vast stores of natural gas: Hawaii.
And Hawaii, with electric bills so steep they rival those in rural Alaska, is interested.
State Sen. Lesil McGuire, an Anchorage Republican, brought up the idea at a recent meeting of the Legislature’s In-State Gas Caucus.
“Can you please include Hawaii in your outreach for markets?” McGuire asked Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan and other state officials. “They are very interested. They’ve got their leadership moved into a position where they’d like to start considering that.”
Hawaii’s point person for exploring cheaper natural gas energy options is Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz. He already has talked with U.S. Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska. And the Hawaii State Energy Office has sought help from the Alaska Energy Authority.
A new report by the federal gas czar for Alaska released last week examined the issue in depth.
Executing such an initiative would be hugely complex and expensive, the federal report concluded. Costs on the Hawaii side are estimated at hundreds of millions for storage tanks, pipelines and facilities to process liquefied natural gas and retrofit power plants that now run on oil.
Then there’s the tricky matter of a federal law that requires transport of goods from one U.S. port to another to be in a U.S.-built, U.S.-owned and U.S.-crewed vessel. There are currently no such LNG tankers in the country, the federal report said.
“The question for Alaska LNG will be: Could Hawaii get gas for less elsewhere?” Larry Persily, the federal natural gas coordinator, wrote.