Bettina Chastain

COMMENTARY: Years of input culminating in Chugach purchase of ML&P

As we head into another local election season, it’s incredible to look back at all that has happened in the past year. One year ago, Anchorage voters overwhelmingly supported the consolidation of Chugach Electric Association and Municipal Light &Power with more than 65 percent voting in favor of what was Proposition 10. The vote came after more than three decades of community discussion and innumerable conversations with the public and the business community about how to create a more efficient system, reduce redundancy, and provide lower long-term electric rates for Southcentral Alaska. As we get ready to file the case before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, the Chugach board of directors is grateful for the numerous people and organizations who have supported this consolidation. After voters approved the ballot initiative authorizing the Municipality of Anchorage to sell ML&P for a competitive value of approximately $1 billion, teams from Chugach, the MOA, and ML&P worked extensively to finalize the sales agreement and associated documents. A proposed term sheet was released in September 2018, giving the public an opportunity to see the progress and review the details of the proposal. Over the summer, fall, and early winter of 2018, numerous meetings were held, and documents reviewed as we all worked toward the best deal for the community of Anchorage. The Anchorage Assembly held multiple work sessions going over information and reviewing draft documents. The Chugach board spent hundreds of hours reviewing materials in preparation for meetings, and spent numerous meetings questioning, debating, and discussing many significant issues related to the transaction; all with the goal of ensuring our decisions were in the best interests of our members, not only for today but for years to come. In December, the Assembly voted unanimously to authorize the MOA to sell ML&P to Chugach. The Chugach Board gave its final approval on Dec. 19, and all sales agreements were signed by the parties before year-end. The RCA gets the final say on whether this sale is in the public interest, and we certainly believe that to be the case. Consolidation and elimination of duplication, while taking advantage of economies of scale, means significant savings can be realized over several decades. As a member-owned cooperative, those savings go back to ratepayers in the form of lower, long-term electric rates. It has taken many individuals and groups working together to get us to this point. We appreciate the support of Anchorage voters who recognized the opportunity to do something that will have a positive impact for generations of Alaskans. The Chugach board is profoundly thankful to those who have worked with us and supported this effort. As a not-for-profit cooperative, Chugach is focused on serving our more than 68,000 members with reliable, safe, affordable electricity. We look forward to providing that service to more individual Alaskans, families, and businesses, while supporting good jobs and a strong economy in the communities we serve. Bettina Chastain is the chair of the Chugach Electric board of directors and Susan Reeves is the vice chair.
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