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November 4, 2003 at 1:38am

Stay lifted; Chugach Electric to make refunds and implement new rate structure

Stay lifted; Chugach Electric to make refunds and implement new rate structure.

On Oct. 31, the Alaska State Superior Court granted Chugach Electric Association's Oct. 3 request to dissolve a stay regarding an appeal on the 2000 Test Year rate case. Although Chugach will continue to pursue fairness for retail customers in its appeal in Superior Court, Chugach will be making refunds to its wholesale and small commercial retail customers. Rates for other Chugach retail customers will be increasing slightly. Details on refunds and implementing the new rate structure are pending approval from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

Changes to base retail rates include increases of 0.6 percent for large commercial customers and 1.4 percent for residential customers. They also include decreases of approximately 8.9 percent for small commercial customers and 11.3 percent for wholesale customers (Matanuska Electric Association, Homer Electric Association and Seward Electric System).

The refund and rate changes are the result of orders from the RCA issued earlier this year. Chugach believes that these orders are unfair to its retail customers and puts a disproportionate burden of the costs of margin earnings on retail customers. Chugach's desire to protect its customers and maintain the true nature of a cooperative has resulted in an appeal that has been filed in State Superior Court.

Chugach is awaiting a final order from the RCA on Chugach's Sept. 8 compliance filing that will establish final rates and refund amounts. Without this order the refunds and new rates cannot be implemented.

The current wholesale refund is anticipated to be approximately $4.8 million, with MEA receiving about $2.9 million, HEA receiving close to $1.8 million and SES getting nearly $100,000. In total, the small commercial customers will be refunded about $500,000.

Chugach CEO, Joe Griffith, says, "We are hopeful that the State Superior Court will recognize the discrimination in the RCA ruling and clear the way for us to set rates requiring all customers to pay their fair share of the costs of providing reliable electric power to Chugach's customers and member-owners."

Chugach is the largest electric utility in Alaska, providing power for Alaskans throughout the Railbelt through retail, wholesale and economy energy sales.

For more information, contact Patti Bogan 762-4736(office) 242-0704(cell)