Wednesday, March 16, 2011

HEA Members Forum Update

Alaska Energy Authority Susitna Dam Public Meeting
Tuesday March 15, 2011
Challenger Learning Center, 9711 Kenai Spur Highway
Open house at  5:30 PM Presentation at 6:00 PM

The Parnell Administration has made the Susitna project a priority and the House Energy Committee already moved HB 103 in support of it. If passed into law, HB 103 would reauthorize the AEA to pursue another large hydroelectric project, much as was done with Bradley Lake. A Susitna Dam project might help meet railbelt energy needs but there are legitimate concerns about its potential to harm fisheries and disrupt both aquatic and terrestrial habitat.  These concerns need to be carefully evaluated and addressed before the project is authorized. This is a chance to learn more about the project and associated issues. For two views of Susitna got to http://www.akenergyauthority.org/SusitnaReports.html and
http://akcenter.org/climate-energy/susitna-hydroelectric-project.

Cook Inlet Tidal Power
Tuesday March 22, 2011
10:00 AM-11:30 AM, Cook Inlet Aquaculture Building, 40610 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Kenai
12 Noon - 4:00 PM Homer Electric Association Board Room, 280 Airport Way, Kenai
(you can also via video conference from Homer HEA offices at 3977 Lake Street)

Ocean Renewable Power Co. has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a license to pilot test a tidal power system in Cook Inlet. Learn more about this and the potential of tidal power to offset our reliance on natural gas to generate electricity.

April HEA/AEEC Meetings

These meetings will take place in Kenai at the Central Peninsula Offices, 280 Airport Way. Video conferencing is available in the Homer Offices at 3977 Lake Street.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 (tentative)            
2:00 PM -- Operations and Special Projects
Tuesday, April 12, 2011 
1:00 PM -- Finance Committee
3:00 PM -- AEEC Board Meeting
5:30 PM -- HEA Board Meeting
Agendas are usually available the day before meetings. There are sometimes last minute changes in the meeting schedule. Check for updates and draft agendas on the HEA website at http://www.homerelectric.com/BoardofDirectorsElections/BoardMeetingInformation/Agendas/tabid/220/Default.aspx.

2011 HEA Board Elections
Six candidates will be on the ballot for the Homer Electric Association Board of Directors 2011 election.
District 1: incumbent David Thomas of Kenai and Kelly Bookey of Kenai.
District 2: incumbent Tim Evans of Soldotna and Dick Waisanen of Soldotna.
District 3: incumbent Mike Wiley of Clam Gulch and Malcolm Gaylord of Homer.

Ballots will be mailed to you on April 1. HEA must receive your completed mail-in ballot by May 4, or you may vote at the May 5 Annual Meeting at the Soldotna High School. You can only vote for a candidate in the district where you live. District boundaries were changed recently -- maps are available on-line at www.homerelectric.com/Board of Directors & Elections/District Map.

Electric Rates Up 21%
HEA has requested Regulatory Commission of Alaska approval of a 3.3 cent per kWh increase in the Wholesale Power Cost Rate Adjustment (WPCRA) as of April 1. HEA’s "blended rate" will jump from 15.5 cents per kWh to 18.8 cents per kWh, a significant increase for all ratepayers. The blended rate is a combination of HEA's energy charge and the WPCRA (what HEA has to pay Chugach Electric Association for energy). According to HEA the average customer’s monthly bill (630 kWh) will increase by $20.84. That's about $250 per year! This is another clear message that we need to make a serious effort to reduce our dependency on natural gas by focusing on boosting energy efficiency/conservation and increasing our use of renewable energy technology.

Independent Light $$
How will Independent Light affect electric rates? HEA members are not yet paying for the cost of upgrading the Nikiski generation plant and substation, or adding a new gas generation plant at Soldotna. We have taken on $180 million in new debt to pay for these upgrades. When these facilities come on line electric rates will be increased in order to start paying down the debt. Prior to the present 3.3 cent per kWh rate increase HEA Director Brad Janorschke had estimated that members could then see rates in the neighborhood of 22 to 24 cents per kWh. What can we expect now?

Work at Independent Light project sites is progressing as planned. Several resolutions authorizing various purchases and contracts were approved at the March 8 HEA/AEEC meetings. See the Manager's Report and meeting agendas on the HEA website for details.

Line Extension Policy Under Review
HEA Directors heard a report from staff recommending changes in the present line extension policy. The upshot is that HEA has been losing a significant amount of money each year. When customers connect to new construction or to a subdivision they typically pay about 40% of the cost. HEA absorbs the other 60%. There are many factors involved and situations vary a lot so there isn't room here to discuss everything. From what staff had to say, this arrangement would not be a problem if new extensions all terminated in an active meter. Unfortunately in a growing number of cases, especially subdivision "backbones," no power is being used following line extension. Consequently, HEA does not recover the 60% capital investment. Staff suggests making several changes to address this problem: set a maximum amount HEA can pay on any line extension to new construction; establish a minimum $500 customer contribution toward the line extension; develop incentives for new continuous use services; eliminate incentives for line extensions to empty lots and subdivision "backbones;" shift all line extension clearing and surveying costs to the customer. The HEA Board deferred action pending further study but will probably take it up again at the April meetings.      

HEA/AEEC Audit Report
The 2010 Audit Report was presented at the March 8 meetings and Resolution 45.2011.11 accepting it was passed unanimously. Auditors had high praise for the coop's financial staff and their procedures, finding no significant flaws. When asked how HEA members could obtain a copy of the report, HEA Board President Debbie Debnam said she would make sure it was posted on the HEA website.

Reply to Net Metering Interconnection Rules Comments by March 16
Read comments that were submitted and all related documents at http://rca.alaska.gov/RCAWeb/Dockets/DocketDetails.aspx?id=5934c996-b30f-4563-b7e9-956f240fd746. Any replies to these comments you might have can still be submitted at this RCA website  address through Wednesday, March 16.

Support the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA)
Wednesday March 16, 2011 House Labor and Commerce Committee Hearing at 3:15 PM
The hearing is scheduled for teleconference -- check your Legislative Information Office:
Homer LIO at 345 West Sterling Highway, 235-7878
Kenai LIO at 145 Main St Lp, Ste 217, 283-2030

The RCA looks out for utility ratepayer interests but is scheduled to terminate on June 30, 2011 unless the present Alaska Legislature votes to keep it going. Attend the hearing or contact Legislators in support of HB 24 (Extend Regulatory Commission of Alaska Sunset).

Labor & Commerce Committee
Chairman: Representative_Kurt_Olson(email @)legis.state.ak.us
Vice-Chair: Representative_Craig_Johnson(email @)legis.state.ak.us

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