Fauske resigns AHFC to focus on in-state natural gas pipeline

The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation’s board has accepted longtime CEO Dan Fauske’s resignation and hired Department of Revenue Commissioner Bryan Butcher as his replacement. Both board decisions were unanimous.

Dan Fauske

Fauske will continue as president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation where he’ll focus on AGDC’s mission to prime the private sector to build a small-diameter natural gas pipeline primarily to serve Alaska consumers. Gov. Sean Parnell asked him to stop splitting his time between two full-time jobs.

“Especially after it was fully funded, you know, in this last go around,” Fauske said, referring to the legislature’s passage of House Bill 4 earlier this year. It lined up $225 million in state funding for AGDC, gave it the authority to borrow more, and makes it an independent corporation under the Department of Commerce. Right now, it’s a subsidiary of AHFC.

“I kind of welcome the opportunity, as much as I hate leaving AHFC. I’ve been fully engrossed in this gasline now for almost 3 years,” Fauske said.

At age 62, Fauske thinks the future of a small pipeline in Alaska will be resolved, one way or the other, before his career ends.

“I think we’re gonna have a pretty good answer in another year and a half as to the open season, whether it was successful or not,”  he said.

An open season is a regulated period when gas sellers, shippers and buyers can shop for each others’ business. It’s a key benchmark for determining the pipeline’s viability.

Fauske said other indicators are coming: Permits for trucking liquefied natural gas from the North Slope to Fairbanks, more information about Cook Inlet’s natural gas, and eventually, a decision from the big oil companies about whether or not to build a large diameter natural gas pipeline intended for exporting Alaska’s natural gas.

Fauske, who had been AHFC CEO since 1995, has a reputation for getting the job done. During his tenure, the corporation’s credit rating has improved, it’s loaned out more than $7.5 billion in its mission to foster affordable housing, and contributed $1.9 billion to the state’s general fund.

His departure may mark the end of the Legislature pushing megaprojects under AHFC oversight.

“And that’s one of Dan Fauske’s great talents, was he really built up a lot of trust from legislators, from governors, from others, that if you give him the chore, if you give him the task, he’s gonna get it done,” Butcher said. “And in fact, that’s why he’s at AGDC today.”

Bryan Butcher

Butcher worked in senior management at AHFC before becoming the revenue commissioner in 2010.

“Whether they decide that there are projects and things that they think AHFC should take care of, that’s a question for the future,” Butcher said.

One outstanding megaproject is the Knik Arm bridge. House lawmakers floated the idea of putting the bridge under AHFC’s oversight earlier this year.  The bill is alive, but unlikely to be formally discussed again until January, when lawmakers return to Juneau.

Butcher resigned as head of the state Department of Revenue yesterday. The department is home to the state’s oil and gas tax policy experts. As commissioner, Butcher was often the face of the Parnell administration during the last three years of oil and gas tax deliberations.

Gov. Parnell praised Butcher’s “outstanding leadership” in a press release today.  Parnell credits him with Alaska’s AAA credit rating and with the passage of the Senate Bill 21. That bill dramatically reduced oil taxes in an effort to drive up oil production and economic growth in the state. It’s the target of citizens’ repeal by referendum. Opponents say the tax cut is an unnecessary gamble whose benefits do not outweigh the billions of dollars forecast to be lost in state revenue.

Fauske will maintain his $366,000 salary. Butcher leaves the revenue commissioner’s salary of $135,000 for a salary of $250,000 at AHFC.

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