Letter to the editor
May 27, 2012
To the editor:
We have an odd situation in Fairbanks where the executive of the electric utility co-op, Brian Newton, is organizing a protest in front of the local conservation group, asserting that it is the main cause of the exorbitant electricity rates. I wonder if it’s possible that Newton wants to deflect the blame of ratepayer anger away from himself and away from the decisions Golden Valley Electric Association has made in the past couple of decades and point to “those people over there.”
Is it possible Newton wants to deflect attention away from the promise that powering the large mines would lower our rates? But low and behold, even as the price of gold is at record levels and these foreign mining companies are raking it in, the mines are paying slightly more than half the prices paid by residential customers. And now GVEA is planning to build another 100-mile transmission line to another huge mine, with us continuing to subsidize their power consumption.
Nor do I think Newton wants anyone to look at the history of the $400 million black hole of a coal plant they call Healy Clean Coal Plant, which was initially opposed by GVEA.
I also suspect Newton does not want focus on his own compensation package. At a time when our rates have skyrocketed, his annual compensation is well more than $400,000.
Brian Newton also would be happy if you don’t look at what’s happening to coal-fired power plants across the nation. Because coal is the dirtiest fuel in the world, coal-fired power is under increasing political pressure. The Pacific Northwest is closing its last coal power plant, and more than 500 coal power plants have been shut or converted nationwide.
Is GVEA completely to blame for off-the-chart rates? No, but the fact that Brian Newton can’t come clean about the massive subsidy these mines receive, the boondoggle in Healy and his massive personal salary and instead attempts to scapegoat the conservationists does not inspire trust or confidence.