Alaska Remote Generator Bill Headed to President’s Desk

WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Alaska Congressman Don Young (R-AK) to relax stringent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission regulations for generators used in remote Alaska, paving the way for Alaskans in these communities to reliably and more affordably power their villages. S. 163, the Alaska Remote Generator Reliability and Protection Act, which now heads to the President’s desk for his signature, was also cosponsored by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

“Currently, rural communities in Alaska that are isolated from the power grid are subject to a federal regulation that just doesn’t work for them,” said Senator Sullivan. “This bill changes that, and is a huge step forward in ensuring rural Alaskans have access to safe and reliable electricity without having to bear the burden of expensive costs or worry about whether the heat and lights will stay on. I urge the EPA to quickly implement these new standards so that rural Alaskans can power and heat their homes in the coming winter months.”

“Yesterday’s House passage of S.163, the Alaska Remote Generator Reliability and Protection Act, is a great victory for our remote Alaskan communities,” said Congressman Young. “New generators are very costly, and families shouldn’t be burdened by an arbitrary ban made by EPA bureaucrats four thousand miles away. Many Alaskans depend on diesel generators to heat their homes, run their appliances, and keep their lights on, and Washington D.C. shouldn’t be getting in the way of their everyday lives. I am proud to have worked with Senator Sullivan on this issue that affects so many rural families. I have been working on a legislative solution in the House for quite some time, and pleased to see this critical bill finally reach the finish line.” 


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.

The bill 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.