A comparison of utility rates in Alaska and the Lower 48.

A comparison of utility rates in Alaska and the Lower 48.

AEL&P seeking 8 pct. rate increase

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. filed for a single rate increase of 8.1 percent, which would be implemented in two stages: the first an interim 3.6 percent increase, then a 4.24 percent permanent increase later.

Juneau’s electric utility company is asking permission to increase its rate both in the short and long term.

According to a news release distributed Friday, Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. is asking the Regulatory Commission of Alaska for an interim 3.86 percent increase to go into effect Nov. 1 of this year, followed by an additional, permanent 4.24 percent increase to take effect December 2017.

For residential customers using an average of 750 kWh per month, the difference of the temporary increase will be about $3.19 more during summer months and $3.79 during winter. If both rate increases are approved, the added cost will be $6.72 more in summer and $8 in winter, according to AEL&P. AEL&P considers summer months to be June through October, and winter months to be November through May.

“The increased costs of providing safe, reliable energy to the community of Juneau have resulted in the need for AEL&P to file a rate increase request,” read the statement.

The company expects the RCA to decide on the temporary increase within 45 days from filing, and the permanent increase within 450 days.

AEL&P, which is owned by Avista Corp. based in Washington state, said the increases would “remain in line with the national average, and well below average residential rates in Alaska.”

The company says the increases are needed to pay for upgrades to electric systems and increased operating and maintenance expenses. It’s last rate increase was in May 2010.

“The costs to replace facilities and update our system are often several times more expensive today than when originally installed,” said AEL&P president Tim McLeod. “Over the last six years, AEL&P has invested over $50 million … in our system for additions and upgrades. … We have also experienced inflation in the cost to maintain existing generation, transmission and distribution equipment.”

One of the recent investments includes a $22.5 million backup generation plant on Industrial Boulevard, which would serve as Juneau’s power source if hydro power were unavailable.

Said AEL&P: “To assist customers, a credit counselor and energy services specialist are available to help customers find ways to reduce their usage, make payment arrangements, and connect with community resources that can help customers pay their bills. Additionally, customers can find helpful information on managing energy use at www.aelp.com.”

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