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Fairbanks should seek more gas-fired electricity from south

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Posted: Friday, September 21, 2012 12:45 am | Updated: 11:30 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — GVEA says an expected drop in the amount of gas-fired electric power provided over the intertie from Anchorage is going to cost the typical member using 700 kilowatt hours a month about $9.72 per month more during the next three months.

The “fuel and purchased power rate,” which is part of the monthly bill for all 38,000 members of GVEA, is rising by about 11 percent.

“The increase in the proposed rate is largely due to a reduction in the availability of economy energy from the Anchorage area,” GVEA told the Regulatory Commission of Alaska on Aug. 30. “During the last quarter GVEA’s power costs increased as a larger portion of GVEA’s load requirement was served by its higher cost oil-fired generation units to make up for the economy energy shortage.”

“This situation is expected to continue through the three-month projection associated with this filing,” GVEA said.

There are several reasons why gas-fired power is not available, such as inadequate state laws, short-sighted regulations, oil company contracts that don’t help Alaskans, GVEA business strategies and inter-utility agreements that don’t address the needs of our region. The result is that more power has to be generated at North Pole, using some of the most expensive fuel oil in the world, at a time when cheaper power should be available from the south.

The cost of 700 kilowatt hours per month from GVEA is $177. In Anchorage, the cost is about $100 per month.

The governor, the Legislature and the Regulatory Commission of Alaska need to decide that electrical generation for Fairbanks from low-priced natural gas in Cook Inlet is a priority. This would not put us on the same level as Anchorage, but it would narrow the gap.

Thirty-eight thousand members of GVEA are being penalized because we don’t have a coherent policy. We need a Make Fairbanks Competitive Coalition.

Everyone with a pulse is talking about the wonders of trucking natural gas from the North Slope.

A more immediate step toward lowering electric costs is to max out the amount of power shipped north on the intertie.

Everyone with a pulse should be raising that issue as well.

•••

CONCERT ASSOCIATION: There will be internationally known dancers on the stage at Hering Auditorium this evening for the first Fairbanks Concert Association production of the year.

Dancers from the Parsons Dance Company of New York City and who have traveled the world presenting contemporary dance compositions are to perform.

They are the featured attraction at the 8 p.m. event. Tickets are $40 at the door.

I want to mention a special presentation at the opening of the show.

Two of these patient artists, Christina Ilisije and Steven Vaughn, were here in the summer to work with students at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival for two weeks.

They created a dance during the festival, and 16 of the young dancers from various Fairbanks studios are to present “Alaska Grown” before the Parsons Dancers have their turn.

The 16 students are great, and I hope you pay attention to their performance of “Alaska Grown.”

There also will be a short appearance by Jack Wilbur, Sue Sprinkle, Dave Talerico, Luke Hopkins and me. The first four people on that list are natural dancers who love doing this kind of thing. My goal is to avoid becoming a spectacle. I have a sore foot at the moment, no joke, which gives me what friends of mine refer to as a pre-loaded excuse.

We worked with the students during the festival to debut the act in August and tonight we are holding our farewell performance. You may never be able to see this again.

Anyone who wears an item of “Alaska Grown” clothing can get free ice cream during intermission.

•••

BOOK SIGNING: Carol Murkowski Sturgulewski, a veteran Alaska writer, plans to sign copies of her latest, “White House of the North: Stories from the Alaska Governor’s Mansion,” from 3-5 p.m. Saturday at Gulliver’s Books on College Road.

Dermot Cole can be reached at cole@newsminer.com or 459-7530.

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