Bob Maier: Eklutna water, hydro power, and what the Anchorage Assembly is not telling ratepayers

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By BOB MAIER

An issue left undiscussed in the conversation concerning the water which Eklutna Lake provides addresses the authority which the Regulatory Commission of Alaska has over-seeing the fiscal rates charged by the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility.

If those opposing the Hydro Power provided by Eklutna Lake prevail the AWWU Ratepayers will be in for a rate increase shock.  The RCA would be replaced by the Anchorage Assembly as the rate setting authority.

A history of the attempts to change the RCA’s relationship with AWWU is as follows.  

During the 24th State Legislature, House Bill 108 was one of the Municipality of Anchorage’s legislative priorities.  HB 108 was introduced by Rep. Tom Anderson at the behest of then-Mayor Mark Begich.  HB 108 would have amended the relevant State Statute that dealt with the fiscal regulation of Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility. removing the RCA allowing the Municipality and the Anchorage Assembly to set rates.  

In 2005, HB 108 passed the State House but failed to pass the State Senate.

The reason that Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility is fiscally regulated by the RCA was due to the ‘linkage’ between AWWU and Municipal Light & Power.  

With the sale of ML&P to Chugach Electric that “linkage” is now replaced by Municipal Hydro Power, part of the ownership group for the Eklutna Lake hydro project.  Alaska Statute AS 42.05.711(b)(2) defines how that Statute now applies to Municipal Hydro Power.       

During the RCA hearings on the sale of Municipal Light & Power to Chugach Electric, the issue of fiscal regulation of the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility ratepayers was discussed. Despite the efforts and arguments of municipal officials before the RCA, the Municipality was unsuccessful in wresting the control of Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility from the RCA. 

Lines 14-19 on page 70 of the RCA’s Order approving the sale of ML&P – (Order Number 39 of Docket Number U-19-020) – states:

“Based on the finding that MHP will be competing with other electric operating entities and public utilities under the MEA PPA, we also find that MHP is fully regulated under AS 42.05 pursuant to the AS 42.05.711(b)(2) exception to the exemption from regulation granted by AS 42.05.711(b).  With this finding, and contrary to the expectation of the MOA, Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility will remain subject to regulation under AS 42.05 pursuant to AS 42.50.711(b)(2).”

Those words “and contrary to the of expectation of the MOA” defines what is going on here with the Anchorage Assembly’s current approach to the Eklutna Dam issue and Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility’s relationship with the RCA.

We have a recent example of the ratemaking philosophy that the Anchorage Assembly utilizes: Solid Waste Services is owned by the Municipality of Anchorage, which also sets the rates for the Ratepayers.  On Oct. 25, 2022, the Anchorage Assembly passed AO2022-91(S-1). This Ordinance authorized rate increases for the years 2023, 2024 – (5%), 2025 – (6%), 2026 – (5%), 2027 – (6.80%) and 2028 – (2.90%).  

These are on top of the 2021 and 2022 rate increases.

In 2022, being able to see six years out into the future until 2028 what the fiscal situation of Solid Waste Services will be, along with how the economy will perform in general, is absurd to anyone reading this.  

Should the Anchorage Assembly ever succeed in getting control of fiscally regulating Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility, the AWWU ratepayers can only look to the Solid Waste Services ratepayers to see what their future holds.

Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024 the opinion page of the Anchorage Daily News led with a guest editorial penned by the chair and vice-chair of the Anchorage Assembly, advancing the Assembly’s position for the removal of the Eklutna Dam.

Nothing in that piece mentioned the regulatory effects on the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility ratepayers, which are addressed here. Perhaps the ADN should offer another opportunity to Christopher Constant and Meg Zaletel in order to explain to the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility ratepayers why they did not address this in their opinion column.                                             

The elimination of Municipal Hydro Power through the removal of the Eklutna Dam continues an evolving history of the Municipality attempting to wrest the fiscal control of Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility from the RCA. And once again, they are keeping the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility ratepayers in the dark about this aspect of their attempts.

During the entire campaign encouraging voters to approve the sale of Municipal Light & Power, never once did the Municipality or Chugach Electric Association inform the public of the regulatory fiscal effects on the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility ratepayers.  

The same is true today for the Anchorage Assembly now encouraging the removal of the Eklutna Dam, which by the way, was approved by unanimous vote. 

Residing in Anchorage Bob Maier is both a property taxpayer and utility ratepayer.

16 COMMENTS

  1. The very proposal to remove the Eklutna dam, and therefore the Eklutan hydroelectric power plant, is just another part of the decontructionist and destructionist death-cult that is the radical left. They clearly seek the destruction of society and civilization itself. They are both evil and insane.

    • It’s very easy to play God when you know you can exempt yourself from the consequences. Consequences are for little, straight, homophobic conservatives.

    • The dam is the most efficient in best source of power that you get electric supplies. If it goes away, the rates will go up. We are going to be importing gas for electricity and taken away a local power plant that doesn’t use gas. If they take it away then the Kitna area should not get any power. Stupid people do stupid things and we’re going to pay for it in the end with higher rates between the gas rates and losing that power plant your electric bills going to probably double because you know that the assembly is lying to us

      • I agree with you Richard 100%!

        The idea of destroying the dam, and the hydroelectric plant, is nothing, NOTHING but pure malice, reflecting a profoundly and self-loathing anti-human political agenda.
        Its proponents deserve a one-way ride on an ice floe.

  2. A couple of additional items of interest:

    The RCA found that the MOA did not have a qualified person to oversee their share of Eklutna Hydro. As part of the ML&P sale approval, the RCA Ordered that the MOA has no vote on Eklutna Hydro matters. This is still in effect and the Assembly doesn’t mention this when they spout off about their official position.

    Another little-known impact of the ML&P sale debacle to Chugach is that Chugach customers will still have to pay for Eklutna water even if they don’t get it. That’s right. Chugach ratepayers are on the hook for 30+ years of paying for Eklutna water, for power generation, even if they don’t get any water or power.

  3. In one sense I disagree. The Politburo IS telling you everything you need to know, and very clearly. Most of you aren’t listening.

    The Politburo is telling you, clearly:
    -if you disagree, they don’t care.
    -they have their priorities and the average muni resident isn’t on that list
    -they see you as serfs to serve and fund their progressive “utopia”
    -they don’t care how much they hurt you.
    -they see your children as their property to be molded as they and only they see fit.
    -they don’t care if you suffer, and are willing to accept broken lives, even a certain amount of deaths (provided it’s you, not their protected classes) as an acceptable price for “ uropia”.
    -they think you stupid.
    -they are above laws. You are not.
    -they chose winners and losers.
    -they own the legal system.
    -they own you.
    -they have useful idiots all over town. You know who they are, but are reluctant to admit it.

    And biggest of all, they know you will not vote them out. You are either too lazy, disillusioned, and outnumbered to remove them from power.

    So, please, stop pretending they are hiding information from you. Details perhaps, but everything you really need to know they tell you every day. Loudly.

    • This is the longer version of Sam Hyde’s famous quote from 2016.
      “When we win, do not forget that these people want you broke, dead, your kids raped and brainwashed, and they think it’s funny.”

  4. For the Anchorage assembly, the only issue is political power and control, and they will stop at nothing to achieve it.

  5. Thank you for the insightful “ Rest of the Story “.
    Removing the Ekluntna dam on the basis of establishing a fish run for a group that DID NOT live in the area prior to the Alaska Railroad being built never passed the smell test.
    The control of rates of water and sewer of those of us on the MOA system by this radical jerks in the Assembly is scary. Eagle Exit sure is sounding better everyday.

  6. All for a fish total that would be anticipated on a good year to be what?
    What would the price per fish end up being? assuming that there’d be any at all and for how long.
    It all about how much $$$ will be offered for these non existent fish.

    • At the most, they would gain several dozen additional spawning salmon, out of a handful that the lower Eklutna River (really, Creek) hosts today.

      Note: NOT an additional several dozen tens of thousands, or an additional several dozen thousand, or an additional several dozen hundred. Literally an additional several dozen salmon.
      If the dam were to be torn down, EACH one of those several dozen extra salmon would represent, in additional ANNUAL costs to Southcentral Alaska utility customers and Anchorage taxpayers, roughly $200,000 to $500,000. Each. What a bargain, right?!

      Send the bill to Trout Unlimited, who are using the Eklutna natives as ignorant pawns in their diabolical out-of-state-driven anti-human political agenda here.

  7. The state of Alaska used to employ one hydrologist. One was not enough. A lonely perspective serving the needs of Alaska.

  8. Thank you, Bob Maier, for great investigative reporting.
    .
    Might be useful to find out whether, or how much, the Assembly’s scheme involves federal money.
    .
    If federal money’s involved, maybe a federal grand jury should be asked to look at whether RICO violations such as bribery, mail, and wire fraud are being committed in order to facilitate the Assembly’s scheme.
    .
    Governor and legislative leaders should be asked, for the record, whether they approve this scheme, knowing as they do the consequences to rate payers?
    .
    To Eaglexit sponsors, how will Chugach Regional Borough officials address this problem?

  9. It’s fairly simple:

    If Constant and Zeletel are in favor of it, it is not good for you, your family, your future, or your wallet.

  10. The Assembly in Anchorage should not be trusted. First the issue of promoting shots and lockdowns for Covid, the continual use of Voting machines, and push for rank choice voting. Many liberal policies that attack the freedoms of John Q Public. Time to wake up voters. If the Anchorage assembly is looking to remove the dam resource from the community, you know something in taxes is coming…

Comments are closed.