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Community Perspective

A fresh perspective for the GVEA board

My name is Derek Miller. I’m running for the District 4 Golden Valley Electric Association board of director’s seat.

Several community leaders approached me earlier this year to consider running for the GVEA board. I got the sense from them and from the members I’ve had the opportunity to interact with since that a fresh perspective is needed.

As of this writing, I’ve knocked on 149 doors and made dozens of phone calls to District 4 members. It may sound cliché or unoriginal, but the message I’ve been hearing is clear: Electric bills are too high. Members need relief.

I’m not going to pretend to have a silver bullet, but I will commit to taking a business-centric approach to GVEA decision making. If a renewable energy project can reduce our electricity costs, great. If responsible use of additional hydrocarbons provides relief, great. It’s critical we elect board members that understand how to read and interpret a balance sheet, statement of cash flows, and an income statement. Directors must make decisions impartially and grounded in data. The only agenda should be what’s in the best interest of our members. From what I’m hearing on the ground, that’s lowering costs and maintaining reliability.

I find it striking that many paint the issue of renewables and low rates in such stark, binary terms. As if supporting renewables means you must also be in favor of increasing rates. Conversely, if you support lowering rates, then you must be opposed to renewables. Most of the people I’ve interacted with understand there’s more to it. They understand it’s not necessarily an either/or debate. Indeed, there can be instances where we can do both.

Take for example, the proposed Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric dam project. Had the state had the foresight and political fortitude to invest, permit and build the dam when the state was flush with revenue, communities along the railbelt could all be benefiting from clean energy at a fraction of the cost we’re paying now. While the state’s finances are much different now than they were 15 years ago, I remain supportive of this project. On a smaller scale, many Interior residents have installed solar panels on the roofs of their homes and businesses. Doing so achieves both cleaner energy and a reduction to their energy bills. There are other opportunities as well.

I also find it striking that some tend to demonize our natural resource industries. Our state is blessed with abundant natural resources. We’ve brought those resources to market responsibly for decades. I’m proud, not ashamed of that. I’m also proud of the work our flagship university does to train Alaska engineers and future state leaders to ensure we continue to responsibly develop our resources. The University of Alaska Fairbanks is also working collaboratively with the industry on several exciting research projects that aim to explore new extraction methods and technologies to bring our natural resources to market responsibly.

A generation and transmission electric cooperative is a complex business. I do not pretend to be an expert about every aspect of GVEA’s operations. But I have been around for a while and have been an active community member, including several years as a GVEA Membership Advisory Committee member. Lowering the cost of energy has been a top priority of several organizations I’ve served throughout the years, including the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce and Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation. What I bring to the table is a fresh, common sense, practical perspective and an overarching priority to reduce the cost of energy for members.

I’ve known the other candidate for District 4 for a long time. He’s a good person. He wants what’s best for this community, too. We just offer distinctly different approaches, priorities and experiences to the director position.

Our community’s success is largely reliant on GVEA’s success and our ability to bring down the cost of living and doing business. I believe I have the requisite experience and skillset; as well as demonstrated ability to build consensus to help GVEA achieve this goal.

GVEA District 4 members have until June 8 to vote – either by ballot or online at www.gvea.com/elections. I’m running for the GVEA District 4 seat and would appreciate your vote.

Derek Miller is a candidate for District 4 on the Golden Valley Electric Association board of directors. GVEA describes District 4 as including the following: downtown Fairbanks, north of Airport Way and east of Peger Rd up to the Chena River; the subdivisions of Island Homes, Hamilton Acres, Shannon Park and Birchwood Homes; all areas east of the Steese Hwy heading north out of Fairbanks and south of Goldstream Rd, including Chena Hot Springs Rd; also Secluded Acres Subdivision, located east of Ft. Wainwright and north of the Chena River.

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