HEA members are being asked to consider whether to be locally controlled or be overseen by the Anchorage-based Regulatory Commission of Alaska. The analogy I gave to a Kenai City Council member was, What if every action of the Kenai (or Soldotna or Homer) City Council had to (1) be run through five political appointees in Anchorage, (2) Kenai was charged for that review, (3) they took up to 450 days to do that review, (4) their decisions had become blatantly Anchorage-centric like (to give an analogous situation) they held that the City of Kenai could NOT charge Anchorage residents to park at the South Spruce parking lot during dip netting season while also finding that the City of Anchorage COULD charge Kenai residents to park in Anchorage (heads they win, tails we lose), and (5) meetings and hearings are all held in Anchorage so staff and attorney travel cost and time is also being paid by local residents?
I’ve seen all that from the RCA recently. RCA oversight made more sense for HEA back when we bought wholesale power from Chugach Electric Association — we were 20 percent of their load but only 2 out of 66,000 votes. And the RCA commissioners used to have more technical and economic expertise.
To continue the parallels to City Council: they resist raising taxes until they have to. As the elected HEA board resists raising rates. But bills have to be paid, inflation happens, and commodity prices usually increase. Even with no oversight body, City Council does its due diligence, looks for efficiencies, considers cuts in services or maintenance, is constrained by various laws, bond and loan covenants, gets legal advice, takes public comments, and, at the end of that process, a majority of 7 democratically-elected Council members decide what to do.
The same happens at HEA (except there are 9 Directors, one from each district elected each year for a 3 year term).
Perhaps you vote to raise the dog license fee from $10.20 to $15 because you’ve found you’re not covering your costs, you spend $10,000 in regulatory costs only to be told you can’t charge $15. Then you will have to cut some preventative maintenance expense or delay some safety- or reliability-related upgrade in order to make budget.
So it’s not deregulation, so much as it is removing political and off-Peninsula control and moving to local-only, democratic regulation that will be independently audited every year like it is now.
No one on the RCA pays an HEA bill. Everyone on the HEA Board pays the same rates you do.
Please consider the issue and vote Yes for local control or No for continued RCA involvement when you get your ballots.