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Railbelt utilities update RCA on efforts to develop transmission business model

Chugach and other organizations continue to investigate ways to efficiently operate the transmission assets in the Railbelt to best serve customers throughout the region.  In September, Chugach, Seward Electric System, Golden Valley Electric Association, Homer Electric Association, Matanuska Electric Association, Municipal Light & Power and the American Transmission Company, submitted a letter to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska summarizing progress on their voluntary efforts to evaluate a business model whereby the operation, maintenance and upgrades of the Railbelt transmission network are accomplished by a transmission company to enhance the reliable delivery of electric power to Railbelt customers.

Joining the Railbelt utilities is American Transmission Co., a Wisconsin-based transmission-only utility formed through a similar effort in 2001 in the Midwest. ATC’s start-up and operational experience have been the starting point for discussions among the Railbelt utilities to determine the necessary steps in forming a transmission-only utility.

Recent discussions about possible development of a Railbelt transmission company stem from recommendations by the Alaska Legislature and the RCA over the past two years.

The Railbelt utilities’ report to the RCA can be found at: http://rca.alaska.gov/RCAWeb/ViewFile.aspx?id=0F1C34DB-E14D-44E2-8572-3DE55D84DBF9

The utilities will provide an additional update to the RCA by year-end.

In parallel with the Transco efforts, the member-utilities of ARCTEC are facilitating discussions and developing plans for the establishment of a unified system operator, or USO. ARCTEC is the Alaska Railbelt Cooperative Transmission & Electric Company, a regional organization with Chugach, Golden Valley Electric Association, Matanuska Electric Association and the Seward Electric System as members. The USO would be an entity separate and independent of ARCTEC. The USO would be stakeholder governed and charged with maintaining and monitoring Railbelt-wide planning and reliability standards and ensuring economic dispatch, and financial settlement of economic dispatch costs and benefits. As a single operator of the Railbelt grid, the USO would fulfill the RCA’s finding regarding the establishment of an "Independent Consolidated System Operator." ARCTEC plans to file a report to the RCA on its USO progress in concert with the Transco report due on Dec. 31, 2015