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Alaska Energy Future Needs Informed Voters (gas, hydro under political assault)

By -- May 8, 2024

“We do not have a gas shortage problem; we have a gas contract renewal ‘problem’ that the incumbents on the board refuse to address.”

“How can a board member do both: support green unreliable energy and meet their fiduciary responsibilities of lowest cost, highest reliability, best service, and safety?”

Chugach Electric Association members face politicized, expensive, and unreliable power options that are certainly not the fault of rich, local resources that have proven their worth for many decades. Only inaction in the face of nefarious “green” can make it happen. Will Chugach members wake up to what economists call the concentrated benefit/diffuse cost problem?

Radical green politicization of electric co-op boards has been a long time in the making, specifically for the 90,000 members of Anchorage-area Chugach Electric Association (CEA). Here is the latest.

Green’ Incumbents CEA Board

Sam Cason and Mark Wiggin, green incumbents on the CEA board, are endorsed by the Alaska Center.  The Alaska Center supports a carbon tax and is funded by the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which is managed by Arabella Advisors, the largest political dark money network in the country. The Alaska Center is advocating for the removal of the Eklutna Dam, Chugach’s single largest source of clean and firm renewable energy, accounting for 24% of the renewable energy portfolio and 5-6% of the total electricity for the Railbelt. 

The Eklutna Dam provides the lowest cost of firm power in the Southcentral region.  Aside from removing the lowest-cost clean energy, dam removal would affect Anchorage’s drinking water as 90% of the water comes from Eklutna Lake.

Cason and Wiggin are also endorsed by Renewable Energy Alaska Project (Renewable Energy Alaska Project, which is supported monetarily by National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a federally funded program with an annual budget of over half a billion dollars. NREL’s mission is heavily geared towards “Energy Justice,” aiming to convince folks that windmills and solar panels equate to equity and diversity.

According to the endorsement 

These two candidates have each shown their commitment to REAP’s mission of increasing the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Alaska throughout their time on the Chugach Board. And together they have pledged to address this Cook Inlet Gas Crisis in a transparent manner by diversifying Chugach Electric’s generation portfolio away from a dangerous dependency on natural gas towards a mix of local, reliable, stably-priced renewable energy sources.

Unfortunately for ratepayers, REAP has nothing to gain by advocating to keep clean, reliable, affordable power from Eklutna Dam. In fact, REAP stands to benefit from the removal of the dam under the proposal to deactivate “as soon as a different renewable energy source replaces the hydroelectric project’s output.”

Eighty percent (80%) of the power generation for CEA members is provided by natural gas. CEA has raised the red flag on dwindling gas supplies and the need to find “alternative sources” of energy to fill the gap. This “gap” is due to natural gas contracts expiring. New contracts need new provisions, an everyday practice. But green board members do not want to extend/renew natural gas contracts if their friends and current board members are all in the business of providing wind and solar solutions.

The conflict-of-interest at the expense of ratepayers is obvious. Unfortunately, the coop has decarbonization goals at odds with their primary duty of providing price-competitive, reliable power. The incumbents also reject proposals such as a coal plant with carbon capture as a policy of distraction and delay. Fair enough but proponents of wind and solar are engaged in just that.

We do not have a gas shortage problem; we have an economic problem that the incumbents on the board refuse to own. Instead, board members sit on their hands, allowing ENGOs to infiltrate our state government to draft and lobby legislation that will hold them harmless from liability for their terrible decisions to come. These ENGOs such as REAP are regularly invited to Juneau to testify on green bills enacting renewable mandatescentral planning organizationsgreen banks, and to further subsidize and “level the playing field” for for-profit renewable independent power producers.

In turn, there is no one invited to testify as to the true economical impacts of this legislation. While these ENGOs such as REAP and Launch Alaska (energy transition accelerator) claim to be non-profit, they are implementing profiteering.

At the end of the day, the totality of the “all of the above” energy legislation that is cycling through our capital will result in no accountability from the boards that represent the rate payers, as well as higher costs – either the board members know this and do not care to represent ratepayers, or they are not paying attention. How can a board member do both: support green unreliable energy and meet their fiduciary responsibilities of lowest cost, highest reliability, best service, and safety? We are well on our way to becoming ratepayers without representation with a very expensive utility bill.

All of the Above = Bad

The “all of the above” approach to energy is a terribly misinformed mantra that is repeated at all levelsincluding by Governor Mike Dunleavy, who is the primary champion for all of these green policies.  When they openly tell us what their plans are, we should listen to and believe them. Including ALL power alternatives implies unreliable, very expensive, and environmentally destructive sources will be put on our grid. As physicist John Droz sagaciously asks:

How do we advance our economy and our society by allowing unreliable, expensive, and environmentally ruinous power sources on the grid? Who really benefits from an “All of the Above” policy? Well it certainly is not taxpayers, ratepayers, or the environment. The primary beneficiaries are foreign conglomerates who supply us with energy sources that are unreliable, expensive and environmentally devastating — plus China who we will owe an even larger debt to!  All of the Sensible is the obvious answer.”

Yes indeed, sensible options needed for the ratepayers, please.

Folks, if you like representation in your power co-op, we need to elect board members who are not driven by green politics and greed, and who are prepared and willing to do the job – no matter how tough it gets. What will it look like when Chugach members are battling with .45¢/kwh power rates and social justice billing? Will we be forced to eat it like Californians? 

Today we have an advantage over models in the lower-48 where we have representation and nonprofits that provide our power; it is ours to keep. It is through ignorance or corruption that our nonprofit energy infrastructure is being dismantled.

Election Opportunity

The incumbents believe decisions they are responsible for are better left up to the government, ENGOs and bureaucracies. As Alaskans, we’ve lived through this progressive reliance on government as it has become a costly impediment to our way of life and our freedoms. In this election, we have a unique opportunity to keep our representation and align it with our values as Alaskans. Neither candidate running against the incumbents are beholden to special interests – they see the train coming and their background, experience and dedication to transparency equip them to deal with our challenges ahead.

Dan Rogers is an engineer and business owner with decades of experience in improving power system reliability and cost.  Dan was once employed with Chugach and is the co-founder of one of the largest power system engineering companies in Alaska.  He has been involved in many projects including the firm and reliable Bradley Lake Project.  His clear-eyed take is that renewable projects can be done at Chugach, “but only if a dispassionate look is taken at the options available.”

Todd Lindley is an engineer and business owner with a firm understanding of economics, energy systems and many years of applying logic driven solutions.  Todd has an extraordinary breadth of experience at home in the United States and abroad in design and evaluation/risk scoring on projects large and small.  Todd has been actively involved in the study of carbon legislation and energy policy.  He brings a unique perspective to the electrical utility realm as so much of our firm power is reliant on the oil and gas industry where he has spent his career as a Mechanical Engineer.

Ballots are in the mail – Retrieve your election passcode from your ballot packet and vote online here through May 17th. Watch the Anchorage Chamber “Make it Monday” forum with the candidates here.

Kassie Andrews is a Principal at MasterResource who regularly comments on Alaska energy policy.

One Comment for “Alaska Energy Future Needs Informed Voters (gas, hydro under political assault)”

  1. Kassie Andrews  

    Meeting minutes and admission from the Mayors’ energy coalition:

    “Utilities have the responsibility to meet the energy requirements and demands of Southcentral Alaska.”



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