October 1997
Number 164


Published by Chugach Electric Association, Anchorage.  Chugach is a not-for-profit member-owed electric cooperative and Alaska's largest electricity supplier.

ML&P customers ask for Chugach Power

In September a pair of customers served by Anchorage Municipal Light & Power formally asked Chugach to provide their electric power. Their requests may provide test cases for retail commodity electric power sales competition in Alaska.

Both Columbia Alaska Regional Hospital and the Boardwalk Condominium Owners Association determined they could save money by purchasing electric power from Chugach.  Both asked Chugach to arrange the transfer of service from ML&P.

In response, Chugach sent letters to ML&P proposing a rate to move or "wheel" Chugach power over the ML&P system to the customers. The proposed rate was based upon an ML&P "cost of service" filing. No new facilities would need to be constructed in order for Chugach to sell electric power to the customers. Instead of building new infrastructure, Chugach would pay for the use of ML&P's wires to move the power.

Copies of the correspondence were sent to the Alaska Public Utilities Commission.

In written response to Chugach's proposal for a wheeling rate for Boardwalk Condos, ML&P noted it 

could not charge for services not currently in its tariff, cannot legally discontinue service to one of its retail customers and considered Chugach's proposal to provide service outside its certificated service territory illegal.

Chugach's position is that customer choice and competition is already possible under existing federal and state laws. All that is necessary is for ML&P to allow its facilities to be used to gain access to customers already receiving distribution service from ML&P.

As of early October, ML&P had not asked the APUC for a distribution service rate.

Chugach recognizes that competition can work both ways, and there is a chance that some current Chugach customers may choose to receive power from ML&P or another provider.

Despite that possibility Chugach General Manager Gene Bjornstad says the cooperative supports the right of customers to make their own decision about who provides their power. He also said he believes competition will lead to better prices and services for consumers.