Kenai Peninsula power bills to go up in February

160118_hea_logo_2__pic_Power bills are about to go up for communities on the Western Kenai Peninsula who are served by the Homer Electric Association.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska has approved HEA’s request for a temporary 3.25 percent rate increase. Joe Gallagher is a spokesperson for HEA.

“It will be about a $3.15 increase to the monthly electric bills. So for the average member who uses about 550 kilowatt hours, the bill will go from approximately $138 dollars to approximately $141 dollars,” said Gallagher.

The Commission issued the decision Friday. Gallagher says HEA needs the increase to recover a significant loss from transmitting power for other utilities in the Anchorage area.

“Homer Electric needs to collect about $1.8 million dollars in revenue for the year and we believe we should be getting that from the other utilities on the rail belt for their use of our transmission line to move power from the Bradley Lake Hydroelectric Plant North to Anchorage. The power currently is being wielded across our system, but we receive no compensation for that,” said Gallagher.

The regulatory commission has denied HEA’s request to collect from the other utilities. The cooperative is appealing that decision in the Alaska Supreme Court.

HEA reportedly takes a yearly loss of a Million dollars from transmitting power from the Bradley Lake Hydroelectric plant on behalf of other utilities. Gallagher says the cooperative requires another $4 million dollars to meet financial obligations. HEA’s filing for the rate increase stated that without immediate rate relief, the utility could have defaulted on mortgages for its power plants.

Gallagher says the rate increase is temporary. He says an additional proposed 1.8 percent permanent rate increase is under consideration by the Regulatory Commission. The 3.25 percent rate increase is effective February 1st.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.