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Chugach offers electric vehicle incentive programs

Chugach is offering several new electric vehicle (EV) related incentives to promote the use of EVs in Alaska. Individually, the incentives are intended to help the utility’s members interested in owning and driving an EV and the businesses that would like to serve them. Collectively, the programs will help Chugach learn more about the trend toward transportation electrification and its impacts on the power grid.

There are two types of EVs that connect to the grid, and both qualify for the incentive programs. Battery electric vehicles are all-electric and generally have a range of 200-300 miles on a full charge. Plug-in electric hybrids travel for a limited range (25-40 miles) on battery power before switching to an internal combustion engine. Both are present in Alaska.

The incentive programs from Chugach provide bill credits for residential and commercial members who install charging equipment. Additional programs target specific types of members, like hotels and fleet owners, with reimbursements for adding EV charging stations. All are available now for Chugach members. Another Chugach program will be available in the future once rental car companies begin offering EVs for rent. One will help pay the cost of an extended rental for Chugach members who want to see what it is like to drive an EV. The other will help lease an EV for one or more Chugach members who are transportation network drivers.

Chugach has multiple goals in offering the initiatives including helping members build business, reducing range anxiety for drivers, and growing beneficial load that spreads fixed costs across more unit sales. An additional benefit of the program is to gain information that may be useful in the development of alternative rate options for EV charging.

Background

The new Chugach programs follow an EV charging research program initiated by the cooperative in 2019. Under that program, Chugach is helping interested commercial members install publicly available charging stations in exchange for 36 months of usage information. So far charging stations have been installed by Alyeska Resort and JL Properties (for the South Anchorage Mall complex that includes South Restaurant and other businesses), with others at the Dimond Center and a Municipality of Anchorage parking lot near The Rustic Goat expected later this year. Early indications are that EV drivers are finding and using these facilities, and in the process attracting business to the hosts.

Ultimately, Chugach wants to be prepared to serve what is forecast to be an increasing shift to electric vehicles in coming years. Chugach’s own research has shown a near-doubling of the number of electric vehicles registered in Alaska in the last few years. At the end of June, there were nearly 1,200 EVs in Alaska, with almost half of them registered to addresses in the Railbelt.

More information and applications for the new programs are available at https://www.chugachelectric.com/energy-solutions/electric-vehicles

Chugach kicks off summer 2020 right-of-way clearing program

Wildfire danger makes tree clearing top priority

Chugach Electric Assoc., is kicking off its 2020 summer right-of-way clearing program, reminding members of the need to keep utility easements free of trees and other vegetation. In order to provide safe and reliable service to members, Chugach clears trees year-round but has a more robust program in the summer when it is easier to access a utility easement, also called the right-of-way.

Trees falling into power lines are one of the leading causes of power outages, and keeping the easement clear reduces tree-related outages. A clear right-of-way also allows line crews to access power lines and restore outages quickly and safely. The threat of wildfires from dead Spruce Bark Beetle killed trees is increasing across the Municipality of Anchorage, particularly on the Anchorage Hillside, reinforcing the need for robust tree clearing.

In the summer of 2019, both the Matanuska Susitna Valley and the Kenai Peninsula suffered major wildfires that burned structures and electric power infrastructure. The 115-kilovolt transmission line connecting the Bradley Lake hydroelectric project near Homer to Chugach and other utilities north of Cooper Landing was damaged by the Swan Lake Fire, and the line was out of service for several months. Utilities were unable to access power from Bradley Lake when the line was down, which meant more expensive gas-fired power had to be used when the renewable hydro power was not available.

Chugach has posted its 2020 Vegetation Management Plan on its website outlining the communication, processes and procedures used in right-of-way clearing. It includes what is cleared, how its cleared, notification procedures, and other frequently asked questions.

https://www.chugachelectric.com/safety-community/right-of-way-clearing

Chugach members elect two new directors

Chugach Electric Association, Inc. members elected Sam Cason and Mark Wiggin to the utility’s board of directors. Election results were announced Monday night at the electric cooperative’s annual meeting held for the first time in a virtual platform in order to comply with health and safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brad Authier, Sam Cason, Mitchell Roth, and Mark Wiggin ran for the two open seats vacated by Harry Crawford and Susan Reeves who had both reached their term limits. Cason and Wiggin will each serve four-year terms.

Of Chugach’s 69,589 members of record, 8,249—or 12 percent—cast ballots in the 2020 election. That is an increase of 23 percent over the 2019 election. More than 100 members signed up to view the virtual annual meeting via a livestream. A recording of the meeting is posted on the Chugach website at https://www.chugachelectric.com/media/annual-meeting-election.

The Chugach Board of Directors will elect new officers at the next regular meeting scheduled for June 17.

Chugach’s 2019 Annual Report is available on-line at https://www.chugachelectric.com/media/annual-reports

 

 

Chugach acquisition of ML&P conditionally approved by regulators

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) has conditionally approved the acquisition of Municipal Light & Power (ML&P) by Chugach Electric Association. The 152-page order was issued late Thursday night, May 28.

“We are still reviewing the order and the conditions imposed by the RCA to determine whether they are acceptable to Chugach,” said CEO Lee Thibert. “Assuming they are, we look forward to moving toward closing and a smooth transition for existing Chugach members and the new members from the ML&P system.”

“The decision clearly states that it is in the public interest for the sale to move forward. We are assessing the issues raised by the proposed conditions and will continue to work with Chugach and other partners to conclude what has been a monumental effort,” said Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. “I would like to thank all involved, especially ML&P, the negotiating teams and municipal employees, who’ve helped us reach this milestone.”

In April of 2018, Anchorage voters approved the sale of ML&P to Chugach by more than 65 percent. Following the vote, Chugach filed for approval of the transaction on April 1, 2019. After several weeks of hearings that started in August, the parties reached a settlement that included a purchase price of $972.8 million. Assuming the RCA’s conditions are acceptable, the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) and Chugach will move forward with the transaction, with a closing date later this year.

“I would like to give a special thanks to the Chugach Board of Directors and all of the employees of Chugach, ML&P and the MOA who have worked diligently to get us to this point,” Thibert added.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the vulnerabilities in our economy and the importance of adapting to the changing world around us. Combining these utilities will allow for efficiencies and provide savings for ratepayers. As Alaska businesses, individuals, and the economy as a whole face financial difficulties from both the pandemic and a low oil price environment, there has never been a better time to bring these utilities together. The combination of the two utilities is expected to lead to lower long-term rates for all utility ratepayers with an estimated ratepayer savings of over $200 million over the next 15 years.

For more information on the background associated with the acquisition, please refer to www.poweranchorage.com.