The Regulatory Commission of Alaska has approved the purchase by electricity utilities Municipal Light & Power and Chugach Electric Association of ConocoPhillips' one-third share of the Beluga River gas field, according to a press release issued by ML&P late yesterday.
ML&P, a utility owned by the Municipality of Anchorage, is purchasing 70 percent of ConocoPhillips' interests in the field, while Chugach Electric is purchasing 30 percent of the interests. ML&P already owns one third of the field.
The utilities want to reduce the cost of the fuel gas they use in their power generation plants by obtaining their own gas at cost from Beluga, rather than buying the gas at market prices. The utilities had asked the commission for expedited consideration of their request for approval of the purchase.
"I want to thank the RCA for their swift consideration and action. I also want to thank Chugach for working with ML&P and the Municipality to generate long-term savings for families and business in the Anchorage bowl," stated Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz in response to the commission's approval of the purchase.
"ML&P's initial investment in the Beluga River gas field has saved our ratepayers over $239 million since 1996," said ML&P General Manager Mark Johnston yesterday. "Today's ruling ensures long-term financial benefits to Anchorage businesses and families."
"Chugach is grateful to the RCA commissioners and staff for the time and attention they have given this matter, and the quick turnaround of the final decision," said Brad Evans, Chugach CEO. "This partnership will allow us to secure low-cost and reliable supplies of natural gas for the benefit of ratepayers. This is an important ruling that will have benefits for all of our customers."
- ALAN BAILEY
See story in May 1 issue, available online Friday, April 29 at www.PetroleumNews.com