Tuesday, May 18, 2010

HEA Members Forum Update

“Deja vu all over again”
HEA plans to apply to the RCA for another 2% rate increase to take effect in July.

Easy Come, Easy Go
According to discussions at the May 11 Board and Committee meetings, 2009 HEA Board expenses exceeded the $30,000 budgeted by over $20,000. This was attributed in part to having so many new Directors needing training and to travel for lobbying and other utility related functions. President Debnam urged Directors to make flight reservations early in future to help reduce travel costs.

At the same time the Board approved plans to increase Director meeting stipends from $200 to $250 or $300 per day as of January 1, 2011. The separate $200 per day travel stipend was also reconfirmed.

The Truth, the Whole Truth
Among several Board Policy updates approved on May 11 was PB 221 Board of Directors Website Content. Under this policy Directors’ expenses will be published quarterly in the Kilowatt Courier and maintained on the HEA website. Other new items to be added to the website include Directors’ meeting attendance and voting records.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Board Policy 216, Designated Spokespersons, was approved on May 11 as well. This one directs that “All requests to the Board of Directors for information pertaining to action of the Board shall be directed to the President of the Board.” Does this worry you? Does it mean that your Board representatives are discouraged from communicating with you? Board President Debnam claims not -- “This policy was never intended to impede communication between Directors and HEA Members. I am proud to say that we have an extremely ‘member-focused’ board whose door is always open.”
The General Manager is designated spokesperson for anything related to operations of the cooperative.

Takes the Wind Out of Their Sails
HEA claims it would be too technically difficult to use all 14 + MW Kenai Winds LLC hopes to produce from its proposed Nikiski wind farm. Since wind power is intermittent and unpredictable utilities need to have other power to fill in during calm periods. While the $7 million appropriated by the Legislature was meant to provide money for a fix, HEA feels it still won’t be able to use much more that 4 MW of wind energy in the short term. HEA management and some Directors seem now to be leaning toward using the $7 Million to build our own, smaller wind farm -- assuming the Governor doesn’t veto the appropriation. Bait and switch?

Water Torture?
The Kenai Hydro isn’t dead. While it’s been pared down to one element, Grant Lake, HEA management is still hoping to move ahead with the project, in spite of ongoing opposition from area residents, Kenai watershed protection advocates, and a variety of Alaskan conservation groups. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has scheduled rush scoping meetings with comments due by early June. Notice includes a list of issues for consideration and a draft schedule for FERC’s analysis of the license application. The full document is available at www.ferc.gov, and has been posted at: http://www.kenaihydro.com/documents/index.php .

Jobs for Who?
As you probably noticed along ago, HEA has been outsourcing member billing. This change eliminated at least two local jobs but has proven efficient and cost effective. Nonetheless, it has caused a lot of heartburn among HEA members. The Board of Directors keeps getting complaints and now feels your pain. They are looking for ways to bring the work back to Alaska without increasing costs exponentially. No solutions yet, though.

Here Comes the Sun (and other stuff)
Don’t forget -- the Alaska Solar tour comes to the Kenai Peninsula tomorrow, Saturday, May 15. Go to http://www.alaskasolartour.org/ for more information.

Electric Coffee Table
Plan to tune in to next week’s Coffee Table Program on KBBI or KDLL (Wednesday, May 19, 9:00 AM). The focus will be all things HEA with guests Brad Janorschke and Joe Gallagher. This is your chance to ask some hard questions. Call 235-7721 on the southern peninsula, 1-800-979-7405 from elsewhere.

A special HEAMF alert will come your way soon with ideas for questions and comments.

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