Organizations express support for GRETC
Today three organizations that provide electric service in the Railbelt announced continued support for creation of an entity to meet the combined generation and transmission needs of customers in the region.
Leaders of Chugach Electric Association, Matanuska Electric Association and the City of Seward held a joint meeting today and moved forward in support of legislation to create the Greater Railbelt Energy and Transmission Corporation, or GRETC. The City of Seward will confirm their support for the GRETC concept at a council meeting later this month. The organizations outlined their vision in a resolution that noted many of the benefits the new organization would bring. These include joint planning, state-assisted financing, and utility technical expertise to operate and maintain projects.
The organizations note that the successful Bradley Lake hydroelectric project provides a model for GRETC activities. Bradley Lake is a state-owned, utility-operated project whose low-cost power is shared through power sales contracts with each of the six Railbelt electric utilities. The state provided the financing for Bradley Lake through a combination of grants and bonds, with the utilities covering the debt service in exchange for power from the project.
Legislation to create GRETC was introduced in both the House and Senate earlier this year, but the legislature adjourned with the bills still in the energy committees of the two bodies. Legislators and utilities have devoted a great deal of time to energy issues during the interim, and the GRETC bills will continue to receive attention when the legislature reconvenes in 2010.
The GRETC concept of a single Railbelt organization to provide generation and transmission services emerged from a study of how the region's grid works today and how it could best meet the needs of Alaskans in the future. The Railbelt Electrical Grid Authority study, completed in September 2008, was led by the Alaska Energy Authority with funding from the legislature. The REGA study identified an average annual present worth net savings of between $10.5 and $30.9 million which equates to between a 3.6% to 10.1% net savings for Railbelt consumers. In a related effort, the AEA is currently doing an integrated resource plan to determine how to meet the generation needs of the Railbelt for the next 50 years.
The Parnell administration, like the Palin administration before it, continues to support the GRETC legislation. The governor's senior energy advisors and AEA leadership have met repeatedly with Railbelt electric utilities to discuss the legislation and seek consensus on the issues.
A task force of the boards of all Railbelt electric utilities will continue their work on GRETC and related issues.