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Rising crude oil prices generate another GVEA rate increase

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Posted: Friday, December 2, 2011 11:56 pm | Updated: 1:34 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The cost of 700 kilowatt hours of electricity went up by $13 Thursday because of rising costs on the fuel and purchased power portion of the bill, Golden Valley Electric Association says.

With this increase, the cost of that amount of electricity, which is a bit more than the average residential customer uses, goes to $168.54.

That is $62 more than members of the Chugach Electric Association pay for the same amount of power. Chugach relies on low-cost natural gas for most of its power.

In Juneau, where hydropower is the energy source, customers of Alaska Electric Light & Power Company pay $95.28 for 700 kilowatt hours.

GVEA cited three factors in the increase:

• The Healy coal plant was down for maintenance, temporarily shutting off the lowest-cost source of power. Oil costs about three times as much as coal-fired generation.

• The amount of power shipped to Fairbanks from Anchorage on the intertie has declined and the cost is going up.

“Anchorage electric utilities have a higher demand in the winter months. This means they have limited extra power to sell us. Also, the cost to purchase electricity from Anchorage has gone up, though it is still less expensive than our own oil-fired generation,” GVEA said.

• Crude oil prices are up seven percent in recent months. A barrel of oil cost $107 in August and averaged $115 in November.

•••

POWER SUPPLY: In late November, a power line to the Snettisham dam was temporarily off line, creating a problem for the Juneau power grid. The electric utility spent $430,000 on diesel fuel in a few days, which will lead to an increase in the average residential electric bill of about $3.75 per month for the first three months of 2012.

In Fairbanks, GVEA uses 64,000 gallons of oil per day. When the Healy plant was shut down, the usage jumped to 148,500 gallons per day.

•••

MUSHING TALE: Author Tricia Brown, a talented editor and writer, is to be at Gulliver’s Books today to sign and read from her new children’s book, “Musher’s Night Before Christmas.” The event is from 10 a.m. to noon.

•••

LIGHTEN UP: A local bus driver called me Friday to say the consensus among local bus drivers is that far too many pedestrians, both those waiting for buses and those walking along the streets, are wearing black clothing these days, which makes them hard to see and puts them at risk.

“We are having difficulty seeing them when they walk along the street or across the road,” she said.

She suggested adults and kids need to use more reflective tape and bright clothing during the winter.

•••

FIRE VICTIMS: A fundraiser is planned today at the Big I for the Woodriff family, whose Sirlin Drive home was destroyed by a Nov. 17 fire. They did not have insurance. The spaghetti feed and auction is from 4 to 10 p.m.

•••

GRADUATE AWARD: Fairbanksan Peggy Shumaker, the Alaska State Writer Laureate, has been named Alumnus of the Year for the College of Humanities by the University of Arizona Alumni Association.

Shumaker grew up in Tucson and is a professor emerita of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Over the years, she says on her website, she has given readings in “art galleries, a governor’s mansion, a clearing in the woods, an abandoned bank, on reservations, in libraries, at a gold dredge, under the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon, on a riverboat and at many bookstores, community centers and universities.”

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

459-7530.

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