Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Unlimited Debt
While HEA has a $450 million debt cap, it turns out the Alaska Electric and Energy Cooperative (AEEC), HEA's separate generation and transmission corporation. has none.
All major projects such as Independent Light take place under AEEC.

Being a completely separate legal entity, AEEC is not directly accountable to HEA members -- you have no rights or privileges with respect to it. AEEC meeting agendas are not published on the HEA website and, at least recently, most meetings have been closed to HEA members. You can only influence AEEC indirectly through appeal to HEA Directors. In a recent e-mail exchange, one HEA Director wrote, "I'm aware of the smoke-and-mirrors aspect of that distinction with AE&EC being a one-member co-op, but that is the legal structure. That said, HEA+AE&EC's debts don't and won't exceed HEA's debt cap."

Getting Steamed Up
On April 6th AEEC approved a $5,017,900 design contract for addition of a steam turbine to the Nikiski facility. The contract has been awarded to Stanley Consultants, Inc., an Iowa-based company. This is the first step in implementing the Independent Light project. Most sources seem to agree that retrofitting the Nikiski plant for cogenration makes technical and economic sense. There is room, however, for significant disagreement over plans to follow up with installation of two new single cycle natural gas gererators in Soldotna.

HEA Website Upgrades
At the April 6 meeting, the HEA Operations committee approved our request that HEA Board Policies be posted on the website. They are available at http://www.homerelectric.com/ by clicking Board of Directors and Elections/Board Policies on the left side menu. You will see that bylaws, the district map, a meetings calendar and other Board related information are available there as well.

Unfortunately, so far none of our suggestions for improving the Independent Light Frequently Asked Question page have been acted on and our responses to answers posted there have not been addressed.

HEA Board Perks
You may have read the recent Peninsula Clarion article on HEA Board Reimbursements (April 9 -- $140,000 in director payments in 2009). This is a valid topic for discussion. Throughout the country there have been examples of rural electric cooperative Boards of Directors partaking of unethical and insupportable levels of payment, often amounting to millions of dollars. Is $140,000 excessive? One would need to look closely at how the money was used. HEA Directors are expected to put in an enormous amount of time and asked to travel often on behalf of the cooperative. Most join the Board with limited knowledge of energy issues or the workings of a utility. Professional development workshops and classes help them develop a working understanding to underpin decisions they are asked to make. The $200 per meeting stipend is among the lowest in the state yet the Board recently voted against increasing it. In addition to this stipend, tuition for professional development courses, travel and lodging for HEA business trips and reimbursement of related out of pocket expenses account for part of the money spent on Directors. Can this process be abused? Probably. Perhaps it would be helpful to HEA members concerned about this issue if HEA took steps to clarify how a budget is determined for these activities, how priorities for which events Directors should participate in are set, and what safeguards are in place to guard against abuse.

Net Metering
Although the RCA is still waiting for the State Attorney General to sign of on the Net Metering standards approved in January, HEA is moving to transition from from SNAP to net metering. HEA filed a net metering tariff with the RCA requesting immediate implementation and may be the first railbelt utility to have done so. May 27 is the earliest expected date for RCA approval.

Renewable Energy
An April 6 presentation by Chris Rose of the Renewable Energy Alaska Project (REAP) to the HEA Operatins Committee on Alaska's renewable energy potential was well received. There was specific reference to how HEA and other railbelt utilities can work toward incorporating renewables into their energy mix. HEA Directors showed interest in the potential of Mt. Spurr geothermal and Lake Chakachamna Hydroelectric projects and in tidal generation technology. Unfortunately, there was no discussion of how HEA would integrate the Independent Light project with these sources should they become available. Chris was invited to return and report after taking a first-hand look this spring at a tidal power prototype off the coast of Ireland.

HEA continues to consider how to utilize power from the Fire Island wind farm and Nikiski Kenai Winds projects when they come on line. Because wind power is intermittent it poses problems of load balancing and dispatch that are challenging. Studies of potential sites for small wind projects on the southern peninsula are ongoing. The Grant Lake component of the Kenai Hydro project is still being considered, though it will require additional funding before significant effort can take place.

GRETC on the Ropes
At the April 13 HEA Board meeting the consensus of Directors was that legislation to create a Greater Railbelt Energy & Transmission Corporation (HB 182, SB 143) will not pass the legislature this session. We suspect this is correct. The issue is very complicated, involving a complete reorganization in the way all railbelt utilities and regulators would operate. While both ratepayers and utilities have stated support for the concept of a GRETC, it's become clear that the two interest groups do not agree on some very basic elements and the RCA recently weighed in with it's own questions and reservations. The HEA Board still wants to work with other railbelt utilities and the next legislature on GRETC legislation.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ken Hepner's HEA Board Campaign Needs Our Help NOW

It is difficult to unseat an incumbent. Ken is running against HEA Board President Debbie Debnam who supported the Healy 2 coal plant deal and continues to support the questionable Kenai Small Hydro project and lots of Board executive sessions. We are told she is being supported by a powerful group of political insiders including Borough Mayor Dave Carey, Hugh Chumley, and HEA General Manager Brad Janorschke.

HEA Ballots will be mailed tomorrow. Past experience shows that most people mark and return their ballots within to following week or ten days.

Please volunteer to help by placing a Ken Hepner sign on your property (central peninsula folks), or for the phone tree (central AND southern peninsula folks).

Contact Ken or his campaign managers to volunteer.
Ken: hepner(email@)alaska.net or 262-8510
Campaign managers: Dan Chay chay(email@)alaska.com,
Robert Ruffner robert.kwf(email@)gmail.com

Election Update

HEA Members Forum Supports Ken Hepner and Tony Garcia For HEA Board of Directors

These two candidates support more open governance of our cooperative -- fewer closed-door meetings; more information about operations, plans, problems; responsiveness to member concerns. Both want to embrace renewable energy while making efficient use of remaining natural gas reserves. See their candidate statements below.

HEA Ballots will be mailed to members tomorrow, Friday, April 2, 2010.

HEA District 1 -- Vote Tony Garcia.

HEA District 2 -- Vote for Ken Hepner.

HEA District 3 -- Call central peninsula family, friends, associates and encourage them to Vote for Tony or Ken.

(Bill Fry is running unopposed in District 3 and need not campaign.)

Ken Hepner
I am Ken Hepner, a retired science and math teacher, United Methodist Minister, and an experienced office manager. My wife and I raised our daughter and lived here for 27 years. Transitioning to a renewable future, we should use Cook Inlet natural gas more efficiently and forego coal-fired generation due to costs, regulatory uncertainties and mercury emissions. I am running for the board because I want HEA to pursue cleaner renewable power generation.

HEA sits on world class tidal, wind and geothermal resources. HEA should be installing wind turbines (mature technology), and exploring tidal and geothermal. I bring knowledge about fishery issues, and support hydroelectric projects when appropriate; however, I would not have pursued hydro-development of Ptarmigan Creek in the headwaters of the Kenai River.

During my 16 years of service with the Central Emergency Service board and while
employed with Kenai Peninsula Schools, I worked with multi-million dollar budgets. My work with Native Ministries involved working with a variety of backgrounds and

I support more transparency and fewer closed-door executive sessions. HEA should
better educate its members about the challenges ahead and listen to your concerns as we work toward a secure energy future. Thanks for your support!

Tony Garcia
I, Tony Garcia, have been a member of Homer Electric Association
since 2000.

My board experience includes service on the Homer Electric Association board since
2008, Kenai Care Center since 2007, and the Alaska Dare Officers Association since
2004. Additionally, I am the state chairperson for the Elks Drug Awareness committee.

My work experience includes the United States Air Force (retired Senior Non
Commissioned Officer after 21 years of service in 2003) and Soldotna Police Department from 2003 to present, currently serving as a Patrol Sergeant.

If elected to represent the members of Homer Electric Association, my main goal will be to provide the best possible service to all, provide the highest value services at the lowest practical cost, to keep members informed about their co-op’s operations, plans, problems and progress. Promote democratic process ensuring transparency and encourage members’ participation and to diversify our energy portfolio by integrating renewable resources.