Anchorage Daily News (AK) - March 31, 2009
It does matter to Chugach ratepayers who is elected to board
By Uwe Kalenka - Links:  Original URL (now dark)  Web Archive

Four people are running for two board seats on the Chugach Electric ballot mailed yesterday. Why should you care? Millions of your dollars are at stake. There is a stark difference between the candidates.

Everyone supports aggressive fuel supply negotiations and long-term moving from natural gas to alternative sources. All candidates favor combining new, more efficient generation with other utilities. Everyone makes politically correct statements in favor of wind power and renewables.

Let's stop uttering platitudes and have a more informative debate on major Railbelt energy issues.

So what differentiates us?

I insist that the cost of renewables be honestly evaluated. Other candidates are not the slightest bit concerned about costs. They hide subsidies that make wind power look attractive but that subsidy likely comes out of your state funds for schools, roads and other services! It is not free!

I will continue to push hard to control labor costs. The IBEW union and allies spend vast sums to control your Chugach board and be on both sides of the contract negotiations bargaining table -- to have an unfair advantage against the ratepayers.

Now, IBEW, fresh from looting the municipality by monopolizing all city electrical work last December, opens negotiations with Chugach in October.

My opponent, Jim Nordlund, had the opportunity to control labor costs but voted to approve increasing wages by 18 percent and benefits by 40 percent with no cap on health care costs. I voted no.

I will act only for the benefit of the 70,000 consumer/ratepayers and not for any special interests. My record proves it:'s evaluation of my board votes earned outstanding pro-consumer ratings (98 percent); IBEW union-backed opponents Jim Nordlund scored only 5 percent and Pat Kennedy 28 percent.

Two years ago, I was instrumental in convening the Blue Ribbon Panel of top business executives and former state officials. We gave them a mandate to evaluate Chugach Electric. We must act on these major findings:

* Take all steps necessary to deliver power at the lowest possible cost.

* Political action efforts on the part of labor have compromised the natural balance between the board, management and labor, resulting in high costs that cannot be justified.

* Chugach distribution costs could be as much as 60 percent higher than those of similar systems. That's on the order of $25 million a year or 2 cents per kwh. Other cost components are reported to be twice national norms.

My only interest is in increasing the value that utility customers get for their hard-earned money. Please vote for me, Uwe Kalenka, and Steve Pratt.

Uwe Kalenka is a former vice-chairman of the Chugach board and a candidate in this election.