State Agency Considers GVEA Proposal to Use Surcharge to Pay for Wind Farm

Oct 15, 2012

Golden Valley Electric Association ratepayers could begin making payments on the $84 million loan to build the Eva Creek Wind Farm in December – if state regulators approve the utility’s request.  GVEA has asked the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to approve the its proposal to begin recovering Eva Creek costs through the surcharge beginning with bills that go out in December.

GVEA can't say for sure how applying Eva Creek costs would affect ratepayers' monthly bill.

GVEA officials have said on many occasions that building the Eva Creek Wind Generation Facility near Healy will not require the utility to raise rates. GVEA’s website repeats that assurance.
But the wind farm may yet cost ratepayers more, because GVEA plans to tack the cost of developing and operating Eva Creek onto another part of your monthly light bill – the Fuel and Purchased Power surcharge.
GVEA spokeswoman Cassandra Cerny says if the commission approves the utility’s request by Nov. 16th, it will be factored into the surcharge in the bills that go out in December.
Cerny says the utility can’t yet say for sure how much that could add to your monthly bill.
“Right now, we don’t know what will happen, as far as how it will affect the fuel and purchased power charge,” Cerny said.  
Cerny says GVEA can’t estimate how Eva Creek will affect the surcharge because the utility need more information about how much it costs to operate the wind farm, and how much the electricity it generates will offset the cost of burning fossil fuels at GVEA’s other power-generating stations.
The wind farm won’t be operational until at least the end of the month, about a month later than GVEA officials had initially anticipated.
She says other unknowns include fuel prices, and the availability of electricity from southcentral Alaska.
Nancy Kuhn is a spokeswoman for the GVEA Ratepayers Alliance, which advocates for ratepayers. Kuhn says she expects the proposal, if approved by the commission, will mean ratepayers’ monthly bills will go up.
“The bottom line is that ratepayers are going to see an increase in their electrical utility costs,” Kuhn said.
The Regulatory Commission of Alaska will accept public comments on GVEA’s proposal through Oct. 24th.