(NewsNation) — Alaskans were in line to receive more than a $3,000 windfall Tuesday as the state began distributing payments from its investment fund that has been seeded with money from the state’s oil riches.
Officially called the Permanent Fund Dividend, or PFD, the payments amounted to $2,622 — the highest ever. Alaska lawmakers added $662 as a one-time benefit to help residents with high energy costs, giving each resident a total of $3,284.
Created in 1976, the Alaska Permanent Fund invests the state’s oil revenue, a portion of which is returned annually to residents through the PFD. This year’s payment was more than double 2021’s of $1,114. The total value of the fund was $73.6 billion as of Aug. 31.
“We’re experiencing record high inflation that we haven’t seen since the first PFD was paid in 1982,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a video. “Alaskans have been bearing the brunt of this inflation from the gas pump to the grocery store, and this year’s PFD will provide much needed relief as we head into winter.”
A total of $1.6 billion in direct deposits began hitting bank accounts Tuesday, and checks will arrive later for those who opted for them. There is a yearly application process and residency requirements to qualify for the payment.
This year’s distribution comes at a particularly fortuitous time. The western part of the state was battered last weekend by the remnants of Typhoon Merbok, a storm that ripped homes away from their foundations and caused widespread flooding.
Residents use the money in various ways, from buying big-screen TVs, vehicles or other goods, using it for vacations or putting it in savings or college funds. In rural Alaska, the money can help offset the enormous costs of fuel and food, such as $14 for a 12-pack of soda, $4 for a celery bunch and $3 for a small container of Greek yogurt.
Lawmakers in 2018 began using fund earnings to also help pay for government and sought to limit how much can be withdrawn from earnings for both purposes. The amount going to the dividend this year represents half the authorized draw.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.