Railbelt utilities at odds, again
Lack of unity among Alaska’s “railbelt” electric utilities was once again on display when two utilities told the Regulatory Commission of Alaska they are unhappy with a plan proposed by four other utilities on plans for a private company to invest in grid infrastructure upgrades. The proposal is to form an entity jointly-owned by utilities and a private investor. Anchorage’s city-owned Municipal Light & Power, Golden Valley Electric Association of Fairbanks, Homer Electric Association and Seward’s city-owned utility, are supporting Alaska Railbelt Transmission, the joint-venture entity. Chugach Electric Association and Matanuska Electric Association are voicing concerns. Chugach and MEA argue the plan lacks a check-and-balance mechanism to guard against rate hikes. A separate nonprofit entity to do planning for railbelt infrastructure, separate from ownership and operation, might be a solution, it is argued.– Interestingly, Chugach and Anchorage’s ML&P are on opposite sides. Chugach is in the process of acquiring ML&P.
Lower water levels in Southeast
Low water levels in Southeast Alaska are continuing to cause problems for utilities with hydro plants. In Juneau, Alaska Electric Light & Power has had to curtail power to customers on inter- ruptible plans, or those with alternative means of heating. Snettisham, the hydro project owned an operated by AEL&P, has received about 79 inches of rain from October through February instead of 90 inches, which is typical. Last year’s rainfall was well below average, also: Snettisham received 136 inches of rain from October 2017 through October 2018 instead of the usual 172 inches during the period