Thursday, January 21, 2010


On October 14, 2009, the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (Commission) voted to adopt new regulations establishing net metering requirements for economically regulated utilities. A final version of the regulations was formally adopted on January 15, 2010.

Net metering serves as an important incentive for consumer investment in renewable energy generation. It allows a customer of a regulated utility to interconnect eligible onsite generation facilities with their electric utility's distribution system. Customer-generated electricity can then offset electricity consumption on a kilowatt-hour (kWh) basis. In general, the new regulations:

1. Apply to electric systems owned by economically regulated electric utilities with total retail sales of 5,000,000 kWh or more (that includes HEA).

2. Affected utilities are required to interconnect with eligible customer generation systems up to a system-wide total capacity of 1.5% of their average retail demand. Customer interconnection can be refused if it would cause the total net metering capacity to exceed 1.5%.

3. Eligible customer generation systems are limited to a total on-site capacity of 25 kilowatts.

4. Net metering customers are billed for net monthly consumption. If the customer uses 800 kWh and generates 600, he or she will be billed for 200 kWh.

5. When more electricity is generated during a given month than is consumed, the customer is credited for the excess at the wholesale power rate. If the customer uses 800 kWh and generates 1,000, he or she will receive a credit for 200 kWh at the wholesale rate. Credits will be applied to reduce the dollar amount of subsequent monthly billings. Credits do not expire or revert to the utility.

6. The RCA must now establish interconnection requirements for eligible customer generation systems. In early 2010 a workshop will be scheduled on RCA Matter Number: R-09-002, Consideration of the Adoption of Regulations Implementing an Interconnection Standard, to determine what these requirements will be.

7. Technologies eligible for net metering generation are limited to solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, geothermal, hydrokinetic, ocean thermal, landfill gas and biogas energy, along with other sources as approved by the commission that generally have similar environmental impact.

This is a good start. There are some exceptions possible as outlined in the "fine print" of the regulations and through an RCA waiver process. It will be important now to assure that the interconnection standards favor individuals and businesses wanting to install alternative energy systems. Find more information at the RCA website (

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Self Regulation (& more)

Self Regulation
At last night's meeting the HEA Board voted to indefinitely suspend all efforts to pursue deregulation of our coop. While several Board members expressed continuing interest in looking at the option at some point in the future, all agreed this was not the time to do so. During discussion of the motion the Board acknowledged that questions raised by a number of HEA members made them realize they lacked adequate knowledge of the potential costs and benefits of "self regulation." It was also recognized that there are many more pressing priorities confronting the HEA Board and management in the coming months. Clearly, member knowledge of this issue and willingness of some to communicate questions and concerns made a difference.

Continuing HEA Website Upgrades
Also at last night's meeting the Board approved placing voting records of all Board members on the HEA website. This will be done on a "rolling" three-year basis and will include attendance and absence information. Such information can be valuable if you wish to understand the way a given policy developed and where each Board member stands on important issues. Such knowledge will be especially useful to you during Board elections.

Board Meeting Schedule Revised
The Board of Directors has reduced the number of meetings it will hold in Homer from 6 to 4. They will now meet at the Kenai offices 8 months out of the year. The reason given for this change is that they want to accommodate members from all 3 Board districts equally. One wonders how meeting 8 times in Kenai achieves this goal -- no meetings are planned within the Soldotna/Sterling district. We have been told that the Homer meetings will occur during summer months. Unfortunately, specific dates and locations are yet to be listed on the HEA website.

HEA Energy Fair
HEA will hold the second Energy and Conservation Fair in Home at the Islands and Ocean Center on Saturday, November 14, between 10 AM and 4 PM. There will be presentations, workshops, and a chance to visit with various vendors of energy and conservation goods and services. By all accounts, the first fair held last Saturday in Kenai was well attended and many participants considered it a great success.

HEA Extends Application Deadline for Board Appointments (& more)

HEA Extends Application Deadline for Board Appointments
At yesterday's HEA Operations Committee meeting the Board voted to extend the deadline to apply for the vacant seats until January 22. So far there are five names on the list of applicants. HEAMF is making an effort to learn enough about each person to recommend which seem most qualified. If you are interested in applying you must be a resident of HEA District 3. Applications are available on the HEA website ( or at HEA offices in Homer and Kenai. They must be returned by Friday, January 22, 2010 at 5 PM. Contact Teresa Gamble at 283-2334 or tgamble(email@) for additional information.

Net Metering
The Net Metering Regulation adopted by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) in October was sent to the Alaska Department of Law for review. It could be signed into law by March 2010. The next step is for the RCA to adopt regulations governing how to tie your alternative energy system to the electric grid. The RCA will probably schedule a workshop on interconnection for some time in February. Public notice must be given 30 days before the workshop. Look for Matter Number: R-09-002, Consideration of the Adoption of Regulations Implementing an Interconnection Standard, on the RCA website (

Operation "Independent Light"
This is HEA's alternative to the Healy 2 coal plant. The plan includes adding a Steam Turbine Generator (STG) at Nikiski to take advantage of waste heat (formerly used by the now closed Agrium plant). This would greatly increase the electricity produced without burning any added fuel. In addition, a new natural gas fired generation facility would be installed in Soldotna to generate even more power. Finally, appropriate upgrades would be made to existing substations at each location. A pre-bid conference was held for interested vendors in November and bids are due back by January 15. HEA staff hopes to conduct bid evaluations and make a recommendation to the full Board by late January or early February.

None of this comes cheap. HEA will need to borrow as much as $130 million to complete all parts of this proposal. Watch for more information on this in coming updates.

Alaska Railbelt Regional Integrated Resource Plan (RIRP) Report
This study was commissioned by the Alaska Energy Authority to help assess and guide railbelt utility planning for the next 50 years. The report is long and comprehensive but, in addition to recommending that the Healy 2 plant remain mothballed, includes the following among its general recommendations:

1. The State should work closely with the utilities and other stakeholders to make a decision regarding the formation of GRETC [Greater Railbelt Energy and Transmission Company]and to develop the required governance plan, financial and capital improvement plan, capital management plan and transmission access plan, and address other matters related to the formation of the proposed regional entity.

2. The State should establish certain energy-related policies, including:
o The pursuit of large hydroelectric facilities
o DSM/EE [Demand Side Management/Energy Efficiency] program targets
o RPS (i.e., target for renewable resources), and the pursuit of wind, geothermal, and tidal...projects in addition to large hydroelectric projects
o System benefit charge to fund DSM/EE programs and or renewable projects

The whole report can be downloaded from the Alaska Energy Authority website (

Monday, January 4, 2010

HEA Board Appointments on Fast Track

With the recent resignation of long-time HEA Board member Mike Pate, two of three southern Kenai Peninsula seats are vacant. The Board is moving fast to appoint replacements for Brian Hirsch and Mike Pate. With only Jim Levine left to represent HEA members from Kasilof south, the central peninsula now dominates HEA policy. Consequently, the six central peninsula Directors will determine who represents the interests of southern peninsula HEA members.

So far, all previous applicants for Brian Hirsch’s seat are being considered for the vacancies. HEA has also issued a call for others to apply by the end of this week -- Friday, January 8 by 5 PM. The Board plans to conduct interviews and make their decisions by the January 12 full Board meeting.

Given that the Holiday season still isn’t over for some HEA members, this schedule seems short. With all the seasonal celebrating it’s likely that some potentially excellent applicants aren’t even aware of this new opportunity to vie for a Board seat. At least one of the applicants already on the list is traveling and cannot be reached with notification that the appointment process has resumed.

Why not extended the deadline two weeks so that southern peninsula HEA members have more of an opportunity to see the best possible people are appointed to represent them on the HEA Board?

And why not consider throwing your hat in the ring? Applications are available on the HEA website ( or at HEA offices in Homer and Kenai. They must be returned by Friday, January 8, 2010 at 5 PM.

This and other important issues will be discussed at tomorrow’s (January 5) HEA Operations Committee meeting starting at 11 AM. Southern peninsula members can video conference from the Homer HEA offices. If you can’t attend why not take a few minutes to request that the Board extend the application deadline for a couple of weeks.

Deborah Debnam
debbie(email@) / 907.262.9277
District 2 - Sterling; Term Expires 2010

Tim Evans
heatde(email@) / 907.262.3734
District 2 - Sterling; Term Expires 2011

David B. Thomas
davidthomashea(email@) / 907.283.4109
District 1 - Kenai; Term Expires 2011

Eugene "Jim" Levine
jlevine(email@) / 907.299.0323
District 3 - Homer; Term Expires 2012

Jose "Tony" Garcia
tonygarcia43(email@) / 907.252.7790
District 1 - Nikiski; Term Expires 2010

Alan Bute
byrdave(email@) / 907.776.8115
District 1 - Kenai; Term Expires 2012

Ed Oberts
eoberts(email@) / 907.398.8039
District 2 - Soldotna; Term Expires 2012