Energy Secretary gets taste of Alaska travel woes on Day 2 of Alaska tour

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Congressman Don Young toured the Prudhoe Bay oil fields Wednesday. (Photo from Sec. Rick Perry's Office on Twitter - @SecretaryPerry)

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Energy Secretary Rick Perry spent his second day in Alaska touring the North Slope oil fields with Rep. Don Young, and part of the day stuck there after a mechanical issue with the plane delayed their departure, according to Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Sen. Murkowski told Channel 2 Wednesday afternoon from Fairbanks that Perry's visit as Energy Secretary – one promised to her during the confirmation process – was a good eye-opener to how things in Alaska really work.

"It's been an important visit for him. Certainly, he is appreciating the size and scope of Alaska. Going from Kodiak to Prudhoe gives you an appreciation of what we're dealing with here," she said.

Perry and Murkowski spent Tuesday on Kodiak Island, touring Kodiak Electric Association's 98 percent sustainable energy grid, which uses wind power and flywheel energy storage. They also visited Old Harbor, where power is still produced by diesel generators, though a hydroelectric project is in the works.

"For him to understand how a small, little hydro project, not very big in the total scheme of things, how it can really create an economy in a small remote village, that's not something that is readily translatable to a Powerpoint (presentation)," Murkowski said.

Wednesday, Perry and Young flew to Prudhoe Bay, home to four of the nation's top 10 producing oil fields. Perry was then scheduled to visit with energy experts at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and tour the Cold Climate Housing Research Center's permafrost tunnel, but those plans were sidelined due to Perry's delay, Murkowski said.

Perry's trip to Alaska was brief, and there wasn't enough time to fit in an excursion to the 1002 area of ANWR, recently opened for development, or the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, Murkowski said. And even though it wasn't his first trip to the state – he'd been before when in public office in Texas, Murkowski said – it will likely not be his last.

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"He has repeated to me over the past couple of days that he's going to come back, that he is pleased with what he has seen here, and again, the level of just kindof the pioneering ingenuity that is going on in Alaska is good for him to see," Murkowski said.

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