Letter: What you need to know about the new diesel generation plant

I was interested to read about Avista’s July 14 presentation to the Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Here are some interesting, related items that were not reported on regarding the new diesel generation plant on Industrial Boulevard.

AEL&P is licensed to build assets which are necessary for the Juneau community. However, AEL&P has not held a single public meeting, nor put forth a single study showing that there is a need for this diesel plant or examining the renewable energy alternatives.

Verbally, AEL&P tells us that this facility is only for back up generation. However, the facility provides 23 megawatts of power and is permitted by the Department of Environmental Conservation as an industrial power plant, rather than back up generation.

Juneau’s ratepayers deserve a thorough study, with open meetings and public discussion, before they are forced to pay for $17 million in new diesel infrastructure.

Renewable energy is less expensive than diesel in Juneau. Investments from AEL&P would be better spent on upgrades to transmission and distribution systems — upgrades that would match the rapid increase we are seeing in electric transportation, electric powered heating as in heat pumps. Supplying power to Juneau area mines, such as Greens Creek, should also come from less expensive hydropower.

Avista/AEL&P has consistently told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) that Juneau does not need any new power generation capacity, and has submitted letters against the proposed Sweetheart Lake project on that basis. In the context of AVISTA’s efforts to bring natural gas to Juneau, this new construction casts doubt on their statements of corporate intent.

New fossil fuel infrastructure runs counter to Juneau’s community values, which aim to move Juneau to renewable energy, as stated in the Climate Action and Implementation Plan (adopted by the CBJ Assembly in 2011) and in the draft CBJ Energy Plan, which will have a CBJ Committee of the Whole session later this month.

Let’s adopt a CBJ Energy Plan that has no place for fossil fuels and shows us how we can be carbon free in Juneau.

Margo Waring,