Some folks consider “regulation” equivalent to “government red tape” but sometimes regulation is definitely needed. Soon HEA members will receive a ballot from “our” HEA co-op requesting permission to opt out of oversight by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. The HEA membership should vote NO to deregulation.
The Nikiski HEA community meeting did not include representation from the RCA as the Homer HEA community meeting did. Parts of this correspondence quote a 10/6/2016 Homer Tribune article entitled “HEA members hear two sides of deregulation debate.”Check it out!
In both Nikiski and Homer, the HEA administration insisted that regulatory oversight is an unnecessary burden because the original reasons that required oversight have been attained.
Actually, HEA members benefit daily from regulatory oversight.
RCA oversight limits the amount that electrical power rates can periodically increase. In Nikiski we learned that HEA’s current debt is $250 million. In the Homer meeting RCA Chairman Pickett warned that HEA members should consider how that debt is to be serviced.
In Nikiski, the HEA administration stated that almost half of diverse kinds of utilities are not regulated in Alaska. In the Homer meeting RCA Chairman Pickett stated he himself would support deregulation where competition existed (for example, the Mat Valley Telephone Utility). HEA is the only electrical power generating entity in town for you and me. As Mr. Pickett stated in the Homer meeting ‘Regulation is a proxy for competition.”
The few HEA members that have actually invested in alternative green energy need to be wary of the deregulation proposal as well.
RCA promotes the use of renewable energy sources and “net metering” …the allowance to sell excess personally-produced power back to HEA. At the Nikiski meeting, current board members stated individual support for net metering. That’s an improvement because anybody who knows anybody who pioneered personal green energy for their home knows that HEA was not too keen with the concept. As Mr. Pickett stated in the Homer meeting, “Ten years down the road, you don’t know who your board of directors will be.”
In the Homer meeting it was revealed that the only avenue to appeal a “post-deregulation” HEA board decision would be to file a lawsuit. Currently the RCA handles all appeals. Furthermore HEA members need to consider their vote final; the procedure to reinstate regulation would require a grass roots effort with several steps that would ultimately require getting HEA Board approval.
During the Nikiski meeting, the HEA administration was unsure if deregulation would save $500,000 or twice as much annually. What was definitively stated is that the savings will probably not be passed on to those of us currently paying the highest rates in the Railbelt at 25 cents per kwh (add everything up on your bill and divide by kwh).
So what’s the real reason behind this deregulation proposal?
Maybe to derail the effort for creating a single Railbelt electricity generating and transmitting entity which would immediately save all of us the cost of multiple coop administrations?