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Story Last modified at 9:10 p.m. on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

News Briefs

Massive new utility forms

Five railbelt utilities have created the Alaska Railbelt Cooperative Transmission and Energy Company (ARCTEC) "to collectively deal with Railbelt energy needs and challenges," according to a press release from Matanuska Electric Association.

Golden Valley Electric Association's Rick Schikora was named board chairman and MEA's general manager Joe Griffith was named president.

Along with Golden Valley and MEA, the other utilities are Chugach Electric Association, Homer Electric Association, and Seward Electrical System. Municipal Light and Power (ML&P) is the only Railbelt utility to decline membership but will participate and provide ongoing support to ARCTEC, according to MEA.

Two board members from each of the founding utilities comprise the 10-member board. Officers include Vice Chairman Brad Janorschke from Homer Electric Association, Secretary Janet Kincaid from Matanuska Electric Association, and Treasurer Willard Dunham, Mayor of Seward.

Griffith is assigned the daily activities associated with the new utility. ARCTEC will focus on centralizing efforts to manage future power projects, obtain state funding for electrical infrastructure projects and programs, construct such projects when requested by the member utilities and to collectively deal with Railbelt energy needs.

AWWU wants agency to reconsider

The Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility is petitioning the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to reconsider its recent decision allowing a smaller, interim rate hike instead of a larger permanent increase of water and sewer rates.

The utility's board last week voted to petition the utility, according to RCA spokesman Chris Kosinksi. The utility expected to file the petition this week and also request a hearing, Kosinski said.

AWWU in November proposed across-the-board rate increases of 8 percent for water and 15 percent for sewer service, for a total combined increase of nearly 11 percent. Last month, RCA suspended AWWU's permanent increase for further investigation into the rationale behind it. But the RCA allowed the utility to raise rates by nearly 2 percent for water and nearly 12 percent for sewer, for a total combined increase of 6.1 percent, according to Kosinski.

The rate increase case will be discussed at a pre-hearing conference at 9 a.m. on Jan. 27 at the RCA offices, located at 701 W. Eighth Ave, Suite 300.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, January 12, 2011.