Thursday, May 6, 2010

Recent News

Election Disappointment
At yesterday's Annual HEA Meeting incumbent Director Tony Garcia was voted out while Board President Debbie Debnam was reelected by a substantial margin. Debnam is the last of the "old guard" Directors who favored business by executive session while promoting involvement in HEALY 2 and other coal projects. HEAMF supported her opponent Ken Hepner who favors open governance and serious efforts to increase inclusion of alternative energy sources to meet HEA load requirements. William Warren defeated Garcia. HEAMF endorsed Garcia largely because he had shown steady growth in supporting our objectives and we lacked knowledge about Warren. Subsequently, Ken Hepner and others who have known him suggest that Warren will make a good Director who will promote open governance and renewable energy. Bill Fry, the only District 3 candidate on the ballot was easily elected in spite of a write-in campaign.

Total Ballots Cast = 5,141 (23.8% of the 21,586 HEA Members)
Total Ballots Voided for Cause = 163
Total Ballots Counted = 4,978
District 1 -- Warren 918, Garcia 702, write-ins 32
District 2 -- Debnam 1,215, Hepner 592, write-ins 46
District 3 -- Fry 1,350, write-ins 93

Manager's Moment
HEA General Manager Brad Janorschke presented a much better overview than the fiasco of 2009. This time he gave a decent summary of the Independent Light project, a brief discussion of the nature of AEEC (Alaska Electric & Energy Cooperative, Inc.), and provide some updated information on the Kenai Winds, Kenai Hydro, and potential large hydroelectric and geothermal projects that might one day supply railbelt energy. Theoretically, his PowerPoint presentation should be posted to the HEA website some time today ( If you want more detailed information check it out. Several things Janorschke said are worth noting here, however:

Independent Light consists of two phases.

Phase I -- HEA/AEEC has already committed to this. It involves upgrade of the Nikiski plant. Contracts have been awarded for design work ($5,017,900), a GE steam turbine ($9,420,000), and related substation upgrades($3,813,697). This phase addresses "baseload," the ongoing 40 to 70 MW consumed by all HEA members.

Phase II --This phase will address "peaking, reserve, and contingency" power sources. Additional power is needed if energy requirements exceed normal baseload capacity, should the Nikiski plant or Bradley Lake fail or be shut down for maintenance, or during unforeseen situations such as a disaster. Three options are being investigated: build new generating capacity ourselves, buy an existing plant from another utility, purchase agreements for buying power from other power producers. No commitment has yet been made to any one or combination of these.

Independent Light and efforts to adopt renewables are now linked. Janorschke said that whatever HEA/AEEC chooses for phase two of Independent Light, the administration doesn't want it to constrain our ability to adopt new or better options as they become available.

HEA Members' Moment
During his explanation of AEEC Janorschke failed to mention that HEA members are not also AEEC members and, consequently, have no rights or authority with AEEC. During the member comment period I pointed this out as something all members should be aware of. It is a significant problem considering that all decisions about Independent Light are being made by AEEC, including plans to take on over $200 million in debt to finance the project. President Debnam ask HEA attorney Rick Baldwin to elaborate on my statement but he declined, saying that no further explanation was warranted.

Another member made a motion from the floor that Board of Director expenses be published in the Kilowatt Courier from now on. I made a friendly amendment that they also be posted on the HEA website. On a vote of the assembled membership the motion and amendment were passed. If memory serves, these floor votes are considered advisory and the Board may choose to accept or reject them. Stay tuned.

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