Survey: Fairbanks utilities cost more than double the national average 

By Jeff Richardson | Fairbanks Daily News Miner: Fairbanks had by far the highest utility costs among U.S. urban areas in 2011, according to a national survey, with local residents paying more than double the national average.

According to data collected by The Council for Community and Economic Research, Fairbanks residents paid nearly 112 percent more than the typical urban resident. It far outpaced the second-most expensive city for utilities, Juneau, where residents paid 64 percent more than the average.

It’s a grim distinction for Alaska’s second-largest city, which relies heavily on oil for both heating and electric generation. Rising oil prices have directly caused a spike in utility costs in recent years, said Neal Fried, an economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Fairbanks utilities also skew high because many areas in the U.S. are benefiting from historic low prices in natural gas, which is the most common energy source in most areas.

“Anywhere that uses fuel oil in Alaska felt that spike — and for that matter, elsewhere in the country as well,” Fried said. “But most places in the country heat with gas, which helps them out.”

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