With the current price of heating oil touching the edges of $5.00 a gallon in the Fairbanks region, I was able to breath a sigh of relief when I learned the State legislature has passed a $1200.00 resource rebate for every Alaskan who has applied for a permanent fund dividend.
Here's the deal. The outlandish price of petroleum has been a huge windfall for the State, but a disaster for residents. Rather than hoard the bucks, the legislature has decided to share some of the wealth to help offset the cost of fuel. In addition to the rebate, the State will suspend it's motor fuel tax of 8 cents per gallon, makes it possible for bush villages to borrow as much as $750,000 for bulk fuel purchases, and bolstered the Power Cost Equalization statute that helps subsidize electrical power in many villages.
So what does does this mean for me? It means I'll probably be able to heat my house through winter, though only if I'm careful. My total home fuel cost for 2007 was $1925.00, an average of a bit more than $160.00 per month when averaged over the full year. Thus far this year I've already had to pay more than $2,800.00 for less fuel, and I can expect at least one if not two more heating oil deliveries before New Year Day. The rebate, combined with my permanent fund dividend won't pay for all the heating oil I'll need, but it will cover enough of it that I won't have to take out a second mortgage or freeze to death in the dark.
There's another hint of things to come, in the woods surrounding my place of employment. Over the past few days I've already noticed patches of yellow among the birch and aspen leaves. It seems awfully early to be seeing the first signs of fall, but with the incessant cold rain that we've been enduring I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Leaves on the wild roses and raspberry bushes have been turning color for some time now. The long range weather forecast is for some degree or another of rain over at least the next 10 days with daytime high temperatures of no more than 60 degrees.
While still way to early to proclaim "autumn" it's safe to say we haven't had a heck of a lot of summer this year. The good news is that we haven't suffered from very many forest fires, but the bad news is that the old gray-headed, long-bearded fellow down the road is building a really big boat and loading up animals two-by-two.
My honey-do list is growing at an alarming rate as I remember little projects or tasks that must be completed before freeze-up. Although all are "little things" the various little things end up consuming a big chunk of time. Although it seems early, it also feels like time is passing much more quickly than I would wish.