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Community Perspective

We are all in this together

I’m Alison Carter and I’m working to earn your vote for the District 3 seat on the Golden Valley Electric Association board of directors.

I’d like to start by stating the obvious, so we can move this conversation forward in an intelligent way. Next, I will share what I believe the role of the GVEA board of directors is and why my particular skill set and experience is critical to a well-rounded decision-making body. I will conclude with some personal feelings about our community. That’s right, I’m going to talk about my feelings.

The obvious: No one is advocating for an electric power plan that would leave us in the dark and cold without power. That’s just absurd. Everyone wants the lowest electric rates possible without compromising reliability. Everyone wants a healthy community with a resilient economy.

My understanding of the role of the GVEA board is based on my attendance at dozens of board meetings with briefing materials in hand, conversations with individual board members, attendance at nearly every Member Advisory Committee meeting since October 2016, reading the Alaska Statutes regulating electric cooperatives, and studying business entity law as part of my law degree.

Directors have a legal and ethical duty to exercise due diligence in decision-making. At GVEA, that means keeping an open mind to all possible fuel and energy sources, including existing and emerging technologies. Due diligence means asking a lot of questions and requiring complete and informed answers.

For example, I have observed many engineering presentations to the GVEA board. What has been missing is a proper financial analysis of the options presented. I want to see a financial analyst at the table next to the engineer. I don’t want financial analysts doing the engineering, and I don’t want engineers calculating the costs. The financial analyst and the engineer must work in tandem.

As our power generation infrastructure ages, the board must evaluate how to invest in future projects that will minimize rates and maintain reliability. These projects take many years to come to fruition. The board must exercise due diligence through comprehensive cost-benefit analyses based on projections of future economic and regulatory conditions. Today’s decisions will impact the ratepayers well into the future. We cannot drag our feet and be forced into compromises because we ran out of time. And we must be open to every possible solution.

GVEA is losing its only CPA on the board. That perspective is critical to the types of decisions the GVEA board faces. I had a long career as a CPA, financial analyst, business manager, and assistant controller for companies of all sizes. Accountants are fiscally conservative by nature. We constantly look for ways to improve the bottom line. We look for wasteful or abusive spending. That’s our job.

I became an attorney four years ago to become a more-effective community advocate. Attorneys are inquisitive by nature. We ask a lot of questions. We thrive on complex problems.

These are the skills and experience you want representing your interests in the boardroom. You want someone who will always remember that they are a member-owner first, and a board member second. You want someone who will never forget who they work for.

Finally, it saddens me to hear partisan political labels used in connection with an election for a public utility governance seat. It saddens me to know that less than 20% of member-owners exercise their power through their ballot. It angers me to be labeled by others, especially those who don’t know me. The only label I own is “community advocate.” I feel joy and overwhelming gratitude to live in a community where we all watch out for each other, regardless of our social, cultural, economic, political, religious or any other affiliation. Whether it is high utility costs, a disabled vehicle at 40 below, a house fire, a statewide budget crisis or a pandemic, we are all in this together.

Alison Carter is a candidate for District 3 on the Golden Valley Electric Association board of directors. GVEA describes District 3 as including the following: the area south of Chena Small Tracks and east of Chena Pump to Rosie Creek; the west side of Fairbanks, south of the Chena River, west of Peger Road and south of Airport Way; north of the Richardson Highway to Woll Road; and south of the Chena River and Chena Slough over to Nordale Road; and the Richardson Highway west of Mile 352.

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