‘Yes’ vote means savings in legal costs, RCA charges
By Dick Waisanen
HEA’s ballots are being mailed out during the month of October asking HEA ratepayers to vote for self-regulation vs. regulation by the RCA. A lot has been said about this issue, but what it boils down to is:
Do you trust your elected HEA Board of Directors to make the decisions for you or do you want a commission appointed by the governor seated in Anchorage to make the decisions? (The RCA only weighs in on our tariffs, rates, and what format our bills take, not the everyday operations, our budgets, our capital projects or who we hire.)
I have been on the HEA Board of Directors since 2011. In that time, HEA has easily averaged $1 million per year in attorney fees and staff time to comply with the requests from the RCA and responding to the different dockets that have come up which HEA has an interest in. With self-regulation most of these expenses would be eliminated.
A number of factors came in play causing the board to look for new avenues to reduce our costs. Our warm winters have caused quite a drop in revenue. The “Wheeling Tariff” we requested in late 2013 has been pushed down the road by the RCA and now has been tied up in the courts. We had expected that the tariff would bring in around $1 million per year, plus we have spent considerably on legal and staff costs trying to resolve this issue.
Since 2014 we have eliminated nine positions and combined positions when we have retirements, cut out most overtime, and tightened up many items in the budget.
By going to local control, we expect to save at least $500,000 in staff and legal costs. Plus our ratepayers will save around $340,000 in RCA charges.
To combat this situation, your HEA Board of Directors applied for a rate increase last fall, and since has spent about $900,000 working with the RCA to approve the new rate. We expect to spend a total of $1.3 million by the time we are done. This extra expense will cause an increase of roughly $.02-.03/kWh which could be avoided by self-regulation.
Your ballot will arrive about the same time as your October HEA bill. You will have 30 days to mail it in. The deadline should be noted on your ballot.
I recommend a “Yes” vote to make HEA the second railbelt utility to be self-regulated along with the city of Seward.
If you still have any questions, you can check out the HEA website or contact any of the directors. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 907-262-6298.
Dick Waisanen serves on the HEA Board of Directors. He lives in Soldotna.