BEN BOETTGER

HEA scheduled to raise rates beginning Feb. 1

Rates paid by Homer Electric Association users will rise by 3.25 percent beginning Feb. 1. The Alaska Regulatory Commission, which permits rates charged by public utilities, allowed the rate raise on Friday.

HEA Manager of Regulatory Affairs John Draves said the temporary increase will be in effect until HEA can negotiate other ways of recovering costs — either with the permanent 1.8 percent rate increase that HEA is currently proposing to the Regulatory Commission, or by charging other utilities that transmit power over HEA lines.

Kenai may get unlikely million to upgrade its wastewater plant

Despite the scanty state spending expected in 2016, this year’s state capital budget may provide funding for long-deferred upgrades to Kenai’s wastewater treatment plant.

Built in 1981, Kenai’s wastewater plant discharges into Cook Inlet from an outlet in the Kenai beach mudflats. The ammonia in this discharge exceeds the plant’s August 2015 permit from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, which allows Kenai five years to bring the plant to the ammonia emission limits.

HEA prices dropped at beginning of 2016

Homer Electric Association decreased its rates starting Jan. 1, while an unresolved proposal that may raise them remains suspended until July.

The cost of power adjustment price that HEA members pay for a kilowatt-hour of electricity was about 7 cents. On Jan. 1 it dropped to about 6 cents. For a member using 550 kilowatt hours a month (the average, according to an HEA press release), the decrease will save around $6.88 each month.

Kenai considers marijuana setbacks

KENAI — Setbacks for commercial marijuana establishments may become more tightly regulated in Kenai than they are at the state level.

Alaska’s regulations for commercial marijuana require establishments to be be 500 feet away from schools, youth centers, churches and correctional facilities. In Kenai, a proposal from the Planning and Zoning Commission would add setback requirements for seven additional facility types and would create a system of measuring setbacks. The Kenai City Council may reduce this list when its members debate and vote on the proposal.

CINGSA to sell newly discovered gas

On Friday, the Regulatory Commission of Alaska ruled that Cook Inlet Natural Gas Storage Alaska can sell 2 billion cubic feet of gas unexpectedly discovered in its underground storage facility, and that the profit will be divided between CINGSA and the four utility companies that use it for storage.

Permit opens up markets for Alaska LNG

The pipeline proposed by the Alaska LNG project would bring North Slope natural gas to liquefaction and export facilities being considered for construction in Nikiski.

Where the liquefied natural gas, LNG, could go from Nikiski is still to be determined, but its potential destinations increased on Friday when the Alaska LNG project was given a permit by the U.S. Department of Energy to export a maximum of 20 million metric tons of LNG per year to countries lacking a free-trade agreement with the United States.

Kenai refuge’s new visitor center opens

SOLDOTNA — Kenai National Wildlife Refuge staff said that their new visitor center, which began construction in 2013 and opened to the public for the first time on Friday, is not only larger than their previous center but more interactive.

Matt Connor, the refuge’s chief of visitor services, said that the old visitor center was “just kind of a little cubby-hole area with some exhibits around the corner. It was 30 years old. The exhibits didn’t really tell quite the same story.”

Alaska LNG talks to area businesses

Although few specifics of the Alaska Liquid Natural Gas Project’s contracting procedures have been worked out, Alaska LNG contracting engineer Dan DeVries felt confident telling a diverse gathering of Kenai Peninsula contractors, service-providers and business owners that “for this project, we (Alaska LNG) will need basically everything.”

Grant Lake hydroelectric project open to comments

Plans for a controversial hydroelectric plant are available for public examination in their most detailed form to date. On March 27, Homer Electric Association, working through its subsidiary Kenai Hydroelectric, submitted a draft of its license application for the Grant Lake hydroelectric project to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the national power plant licensing agency. The draft license application contains plans for the Grant lake project that HEA has been developing since it received a preliminary study permit from FERC in 2009.

Enstar proceeds with pipeline

KENAI — A directional drill rig is tunneling into the ground along Bridge Access road where it will run underneath the Kenai River and connect a portion of the four-mile pipeline that Enstar Natural Gas Company began laying in February.

Workers with Arizona-based Southeast Directional Drilling worked on Tuesday to run the drill and make way for a pipeline which will connect the Cook Inlet Natural Gas Storage Alaska facility, or CINGSA, and Enstar’s transmission pipeline. 

Chenault introduces bill for ammonia tax credits

On Monday, House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, introduced a bill to the state House of Representatives that would create a tax credit for ammonia producers. According to its text, House Bill 100 would entitle “a taxpayer that owns an in-state processing facility whose primary function is the manufacture or sale of ammonia or urea” to receive a tax credit equal to the royalty paid by that manufacturer’s gas suppliers on their state leases.

Enstar begins pipeline work in Kenai

Enstar Natural Gas company has begun work on a gas transport pipeline alongside Bridge Access Road in Kenai. According to Enstar communications manager Lindsay Hobson, the 16-inch diameter pipeline will lie four to five feet underground and run four miles, connecting Enstar’s Cook Inlet facilities to the CINGSA gas storage area in Kenai. Approximately 3,000 feet of the pipeline will run beneath the bed of the Kenai River.

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