Alaska Electric Light and Power Company Lemon Creek operations center in Juneau on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Alaska Electric Light and Power Company Lemon Creek operations center in Juneau on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

City officials looking to stay in the loop as RCA considers AEL&P sale

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly members want a say in the process as Canadian utility company Hydro One works toward its purchase of Juneau’s electric utility.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska rejected Hydro One’s initial request to take over Alaska Electric Light & Power on a minor technicality, forcing Hydro One to re-file its application. This reset the public comment period, which is open until Thursday, Dec. 21.

City staff is currently writing up a letter to the RCA, expressing that the CBJ is interested in weighing in on future decisions and would like to be kept in the loop. City Manager Rorie Watt said that the letter would likely not make a huge difference other than keeping the lines of communication open. If the city doesn’t make any comment, Watt said, the RCA might not realize that city officials are interested in the process.

“The argument in favor of the letter is that the RCA is not mind-readers, and letting them know that it’s important to say that we’re tracking it,” Watt said. “Other than that, I can’t really articulate an advantage.”

Hydro One, which is partially owned by the Canadian government, is working to purchase Avista, the parent company of AEL&P. Avista owns electric utilities in Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho as well. The sale was announced in July and is expected to be finalized sometime in 2018.

At the CBJ Assembly meeting Monday night, the impending deadline first came up during the public comment. Juneau resident Margo Waring spoke to the Assembly members about the deadline, urging the Assembly to submit comment asking that it can be notified of chances to weigh in on future decisions.

“On the off chance that there’ll be some ways in which we can advocate for the needs of this community, for making sure that our seniors, our low-income people are getting the same breaks that people in Washington and Oregon are getting, this is the time to do it,” Waring said.

The Dec. 21 deadline is for everyone, even those who submitted comment during the previous RCA comment period. Those who submitted comments must re-submit them in this application, and they can do so at Among those who have submitted comment is Alaska Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, who expressed his concern about the purchase.

The Assembly members have discussed the impending sale at length at Assembly meetings, Committee of the Whole meetings and Finance Committee meetings. The Assembly was supposed to meet with representatives from Hydro One and Avista this week, but that meeting fell through.

Watt said he and CBJ Finance Director Bob Bartholomew have been working to bring in a former RCA commissioner to a Finance Committee meeting in January to educate the Assembly members on the RCA process. Even AEL&P President Connie Hulbert said during a meeting in November that the RCA evaluation process is extremely complex and hard to grasp.

Assembly member Jesse Kiehl (also the Finance Committee chair) said he is looking forward to having that meeting, and that he thinks filing comment with the RCA now is a good idea to keep the Assembly’s options open.

“I think it’s a great idea to bring somebody who used to be on the RCA because the Assembly, I just don’t know what kind of opportunity we have to participate,” Kiehl said, “so if this keeps our foot in the door open without necessarily pushing either way, and just keeps it open, that I think is what we should do now.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

More in News

Even as coronavirus numbers are going down and vaccines are being distributed, pandemic-related facilities like the testing site at Juneau International Airport, seen here in this Oct. 12 file photo, are scheduled to remain for some time, according to city health officials. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Vaccines are coming, but pandemic facilities will remain

Testing sites and other COVID-19 operations will continue, officials say, but infections are trending down.

After violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol today, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, left, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., join other senators as they return to the House chamber to continue the joint session of the House and Senate and count the Electoral College votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Murkowski on impeachment: ‘I will listen carefully’ to both sides

As for timing, the senator said, “our priority this week must be to ensure safety in Washington, D.C.”

Has it always been a police car. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Juneau City Hall. The City and Borough of Juneau has distributed nearly $5 million in household and individual assistance grants since October. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
All housing and most personal assistance grants processed

About $5 million in aid is flowing to households and individuals in Juneau.

White House, tribes joined to deliver Alaska Native vaccines

The initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments.

A child plays at Capital School Park. The park is in line for a remodel that will fix the crumbling retaining wall, visible in the background. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)
A new life is in store for Capital School Park

Public input is helping craft a vision for the park’s voter-approved facelift.

Expected heavy snow and high winds Thursday evening prompted Alaska’s Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to issue a warning of increased avalanche hazard along Thane Road. (File photo)
Avalanche risk increasing along Thane Road

Be careful and plan for the possibility of an extended road closure.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Friday, Jan. 8

The most recent state and local numbers.

Most Read