The board of Chugach Electric Association, the leading electric utility serving the Anchorage area, has called for a special meeting of its board members on Monday, Feb. 12, starting at 4 p.m. The meeting will be in the boardroom at the Association’s headquarters, 5601 Electron Drive in Anchorage.
The primary focus of the meeting was initially about the future of the Eklutna Dam, a vital energy source contributing 6% of Southcentral’s power supply as well 90% of Anchorage’s drinking water, a hydro project that has garnered attention from environmental activists and the liberal majority of the Anchorage Assembly, which advocates for its removal and the restoration of salmon runs to Eklutna Lake.
Chugach Electric Association is a major shareholder in the Eklutna Hydropower Project along with Matanuska Electric Association, having bought out the Municipality’s shares during the sale of Municipal Light & Power to Chugach Electric in 2019. The sale was approved by voters in Anchorage in 2018.
The Eklutna Hydroelectric Project is the lowest cost power in Southcentral Alaska and is about approximately 25% of Chugach’s renewable generation portfolio. It helps establish reliability in the electric grid in Anchorage and supplies 90% of the domestic water supply for Anchorage.
However, the agenda has expanded to include discussions regarding the Nominating Committee, with additional items concerning interviews, deliberations, and voting procedures.
Last week, nominating committee member Leslie Ridle resigned from the committee because it was conducting interviews for potential board of director candidates in closed session.
According to sources familiar with the situation, the inclusion of the Nominating Committee topic on the agenda could signal a debate about the Chugach Electric board’s internal decision-making processes.
“Given the significance of both the Eklutna Dam and the nominating committee’s role in ensuring that the co-op is run by solid, qualified individuals, this special meeting holds substantial importance for Chugach Electric and the broader Anchorage community,” said a source close to the organization.
The Nominating Committee’s proceedings, specifically regarding interviews, deliberations, and voting, are done privately for several reasons:
- Historically, interviews have been conducted behind closed doors to prevent unfair advantages for candidates who might tailor their responses based on preceding interviews.
- Concerns have been raised about the potential for Chugach members, media representatives, or special interest groups to report on candidate responses, compromising the integrity of the selection process.
- Maintaining confidentiality during interviews safeguards candidates from potential embarrassment or reputational harm.
- Committee members seek the freedom to engage in candid discussions without fear of reprisal from external stakeholders, including the media, the board, employers, and Chugach staff.
- Previous incidents of candidate volatility have underscored the importance of ensuring the safety of committee members.
- Allowing candidate supporters to observe deliberations might unduly influence the decision-making process.
- While voting is slated to occur in an open session, the decision to conduct it via secret ballot aims to shield committee members from external pressures and potential repercussions.
Those interested in observing or participating in the special meeting can attend in person. If they wish to speak, they must fill out a participation form: https://www.chugachelectric.com/meeting-participation-form
The agenda for the meeting is at this link.
The organization does not post its meetings on its Facebook page but the meetings are open to the public.