Thursday, October 22, 2009

HEA and Self Regulation

The attached letter went to the HEA Board of Directors and General Manager Janorschke yesterday. I am told that self regulation, or as HEA frames it, "local control" will be discussed at the November 3 Board Meeting in Kenai. Should this issue move forward you will be asked whether or not to give up regulatory oversight of our coop. This would perhaps be the largest structural change in HEA's history. It is in your interest to see that the issue is fully explained to your satisfaction prior to any such vote. One way to do this is to attend the next Board meeting in Kenai or via video conference from the Homer HEA offices.

If you like, you can also e-mail your sentiments regarding the process HEA should use to explore this issue.

Deborah Debnam, President debbie(email@)
Tim Evans, Vice President heatde(email@)
David B. Thomas, Secretary/Treasurer davidthomashea(email@)
Eugene "Jim" Levine, Deputy Secretary jlevine(email@)
Jose "Tony" Garcia tonygarcia43(email@)
Alan Bute byrdave(email@)
Ed Oberts eoberts(email@)
J. Michael Pate Mike_Pate(email@)

Brad Janorschke, General Manager bjanorschke(email@)

HEA Considers "Self Regulation"

The HEA Board is taking steps toward becoming "self regulated." What does that mean? At present HEA, like most moderate to large Alaska electric utilities, operates under the oversight of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA). The RCA was established to see that utilities adhere to state laws and regulations and operate in a fair and fiscally responsible manner. As part of it's mission, the RCA works to mitigate differences between utilities and help protect consumers. However, Alaska law allows utilities to opt out of RCA oversight by a vote of the member/ratepayers. Under self regulation, the HEA Board would be free to conduct business absent any oversight except that of the member/ratepayers (that's us).

At this month's community meetings HEA members are being asked to complete a short opinion survey (attached) regarding how they might feel about getting the coop out from under RCA purview. Of course, most members probably don't know much about the RCA or what it might mean if they vote to opt out.

This is a significant issue for all HEA members. You should become informed as quickly as possible so that you understand how such a change could affect you.

Is "self regulation" good or bad for us? That probably depends on how much confidence and trust you have in our HEA Board and management.

From discussion at Tuesday's Board meeting, it appears that a majority of the HEA Board favors moving to "self regulation." They feel that our coop could operate more efficently and cost effectively without RCA oversight. To be sure, the workings of the RCA are typically ponderous, time consuming, and sometimes frustrating. Is there anything to lose by dropping out? Perhaps not. Although one thing come to mind right away -- under "self regulation," the new Alaska net metering rule would not apply to HEA. But without more information, it's difficult to know if other problems might arise.

At Tuesday's meeting HEA Board members and General manager Janorschke discussed the importance of providing HEA members with good information about the reasons for, the process, and potential outcomes of a transition to "self regulation." Hopefully this would be more than a sales pitch.

It's up to us to require a frank and open examination of the potential risks and benefits of such an enormous change well before we are asked to vote.

Net Metering

On October 14, 2009 the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) approved a net metering rule. While it appears to have some flaws, this is still a great step forward for anyone interested in alternative energy. The final text of the rule is not yet available but a preliminary summary from the RCA is attached.

For the individual or business wanting to install solar panels, a wind turbine, or other type of renewable energy system net metering is far and away superior to HEA’s SNAP program. This is, of course, why HEA has had difficulty getting members to contribute to SNAP. See some important differences between the two in the attached comparison.

The new net metering rule will become effective after final text has been reviewed and approved by the Attorney General and Lt. Governor.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Seldovia HEA Meeting October 23rd

HEA will hold a community meeting in Seldovia to discuss
current projects and issues on
Friday, October 23rd at noon.

RCA Net Metering Hearing October 14th

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska will hold testimony and potentially
adopt a Net Metering rule on
Wednesday, October 14th at 9:00 a.m.

According to RCA staff, the commission may vote yes or no on adopting
net metering regulations based on comments received to date. It is also
possible the commission will request additional comment on a revised
version of proposed net metering regulations.

Teleconferencing can be arranged if
requested in advance of the meeting.

More information may be obtained by calling 1-800-390-2782
or by visiting the RCA website at