Chugach Electric Association
Board of Directors
Nominated by: Nominating Committee
Residence: Girdwood, Alaska.
Occupation: Retired, Professor & Chairman, Department of Computer Science, University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Education: PhD, Computer Science, University of Illinois; MS, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, Michigan State University; BS, Mathematics, Michigan State University.
Strengths: Administrative experience; Project management skills; 25 years teaching college in environmental and energy research.
Vision: Committed to 100% zero emissions power generation from renewable energy sources with no rate increases.
Challenges: Chugach Electric is facing an unprecedented number of critical issues including:
- Acquisition of Anchorage Municipal Light and Power
- Assuring adequate natural gas supplies at stable prices
- Increasing the portfolio of renewable, fuel-free generation sources
- Upgrading transmission infrastructure to allow access to lower cost energy
- Protecting Chugach customers from large rate increases already approved for MLP
The acquisition of MLP is a massive billion dollar transaction. I strongly believe that the concept of merging the two utilities makes sense from the standpoint of economies of scale and elimination of duplicate maintenance inventory, operations and administrative overhead. There are also important ramifications for the adoption of renewable energy sources that the combined customer base provides. Like most people, I still have many questions about the details of the deal.
MLP has already been granted large rate increases in the range of 30% due to cost overruns and expensive fuel contracts. If elected, I pledge to prevent the use of Chugach assets to bail out MLP and to oppose any rate increases for existing Chugach customers.
Solutions: What can be done to reduce electric rates? If you look at your electric bill, you will see a Fuel charge item that accounts for about 30% of your bill. Do you want a 30% decrease in your bill? The way to make that happen is to develop renewable energy sources such as hydro, wind, solar and geothermal that don’t use fuel and are sustainable, clean sources of energy. Mainly through the use of hydroelectric power, Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan already enjoy electric rates that are 30% or more lower than what Chugach charges.
Chugach is taking small steps to increase renewable energy sources in various ways, but faces challenges in transporting or integrating renewable sources into the existing infrastructure. Bradley Lake near Homer is Alaska’s largest hydroelectric operation and Chugach is one of the partners in the project, which produces the cheapest electricity in the state. But the transmission line between Homer and Anchorage can only handle a fraction of the power from Bradley Lake, so it runs well below capacity, resulting in higher rates in Anchorage.
My vision for Chugach Electric is the eventual transition to 100% zero emission power generation. This represents a fundamental change in the economy of the utility industry, which has long been almost totally dependent on fuel sources purchased on the open market. The long range solution to reducing electric rates is to eliminate fuel sources entirely from the rate equation.
If elected, I pledge to work toward reduced electric rates along the lines I’ve outlined and to keep an open channel to you, the members that I represent. I would be honored to receive your vote for the Board of Directors of your Chugach Electric Association.