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December 08, 2010 --- Vol. 16, No. 114December 2010

Alaska Railbelt electric utilities form generation and transmission co-op

Five of the six Alaska Railbelt electric utilities have formed a power generation and transmission cooperative, to create a regional voice for identifying upgrades to the power infrastructure and to manage the future of the Railbelt power grid, Rebecca Logan, chair of the Railbelt utility task force, told Law Seminar International’s Energy in Alaska conference yesterday.

“We have formed a G&T cooperative. We’re there. We’re done,” Logan said.

The new co-op is called the Alaska Railbelt Cooperative Transmission and Electric Co., or ARCTEC, she said.

The inefficiencies of having six independent utilities maintaining, managing and operating the relatively small Railbelt power grid have long been recognized, especially given the inability of individual utilities to raise sufficient finance to fund much-needed upgrades to the grid infrastructure. And following failures in the last two state legislative sessions to establish a state-sponsored entity for managing Southcentral power generation and transmission, the utilities have moved ahead to form a co-op themselves, Logan said.

Logan said that upgrades to the aging and fragile transmission infrastructure will be a top priority and that the ARCTEC board will be assembling a list of requests for state funding assistance, for consideration during the upcoming legislative session.

The one utility not to join the new co-op is Municipal Light & Power, although ML&P is continuing to participate in discussions with the other utilities, Logan said.

ML&P General Manager Jim Posey told Petroleum News today that, because ML&P is owned by the Municipality of Anchorage, ML&P could run into significant tax and operational complications were the utility to join a co-op like ARCTEC. But ML&P wishes the new utility well and has congratulated the other utilities on what they have achieved, Posey said.

See more in the Dec. 12 edition of Petroleum News, available online to subscribers on Friday, Dec. 10 by 11 a.m.

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