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Posted: Monday, December 3, 2012 11:50 pm

Letter to the editor

Dec. 1, 2012

To the editor:

We read that Golden Valley Electric Association has been able to negotiate buying less expensive natural gas-fired electricity — good news. However, that won’t supply all our electrical needs.

More than a year ago, I suggested to the GVEA board and management that they implement a voluntary consumer notification system (email, text, phone — your choice) for when it was imminent that more expensively generated power was anticipated to be required. Their dispatch system knows in advance when this occurs. Consumers would then be able to react by spot conservation and perhaps avoid GVEA from firing up that expensive generation.

This idea percolated, and, about eight months ago, GVEA management said it was open to doing this, but didn’t know how it could be done. I gave the board and the Member Advisory Committee a list of all the other utilities around the country that were using this and other forms of demand side management. Only a few months ago, I was told that the board and management referred this to the Member Advisory Committee for research and recommendation.

I just heard that the FNSB air quality department has implemented just this type of system to alert folks about poor air quality. Maybe GVEA could use the same software? It has the potential to save us quite a lot of money.

Despite the power cost savings with natural gas, I still worry about the costs from Eva Creek construction and from borrowing another $120 million or so in the next couple years trying to get Healy 2 going again. These loans will increase our rates. Interest rates are likely to be higher from GVEA having borrowed so much already, as well as that coal plants aren’t high on lenders’ priorities. We did give the board the authority to borrow as much as it wanted when we were asked to change the bylaws a couple years ago. Expect your utility charge to increase in July and thereafter for the life of the loans.

Gary Newman

Fairbanks

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