Juneau Assembly lawyers up over AEL&P buyout

Alaska Electric Light and Power Company headquarters on Tonsgard Court in Juneau.
Alaska Electric Light and Power Company is headquartered on Tonsgard Court in Juneau. (Photo by Rosemarie Alexander/KTOO)

The City and Borough of Juneau wants more commitments and concessions from the Canadian power giant buying Juneau’s power company.

Hydro One of Ontario had offered some general commitments in exchange for the city’s support with state regulators.

But the Juneau Assembly shot it down and approved $75,000 for legal costs moving forward.

The proposed agreement outlined in a Feb. 21 city staff memo, included a pledge by Hydro One to not buy the publicly financed Snettisham Hydroelectric Project unless it would benefit ratepayers.

Snettisham produces most of Juneau’s power. It is owned by the state but leased to AEL&P, which makes bond payments. When those bonds are paid off, it has an option to purchase the complex outright.

Assemblywoman Maria Gladziszewski called the proposed agreement a good start but said it didn’t go far enough.

“It doesn’t answer enough of the things that people have asked,” she said. “However, I am concerned that there are some unrealistic expectations of some commenters regarding what this intervention can achieve.”

As it reviews the acquisition, the RCA has ruled that neither the future of Snettisham nor other power producers’ access to the grid will be factors will consider.

Citizens concerned about Juneau's power infrastructure being acquired by Hydro One of Ontario distributed leaflets like this one at a Feb. 5 Juneau Assembly committee meeting.
Citizens concerned about Juneau’s power infrastructure being acquired by Hydro One of Ontario distributed leaflets like this one at a Feb. 5 Juneau Assembly committee meeting. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

Juneau resident Kriss Hart told the Assembly that the Regulatory Commission of Alaska hearing still creates a rare opportunity for the community.

“We get to actually comment on a regulated industry that is a monopoly in our town,” Hart said. “And we actually get to ask for a few things in this negotiation process and we would be very smart to have a good representation. And ask some questions and try to negotiate a better deal.”

The RCA’s board is traveling to Juneau to hear public testimony and accept written comments at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Hall.

Representatives of Hydro One are expected to be on hand to answer questions. The RCA will rule by May 20.

The RCA’s hearing will be broadcast live on KTOO beginning at 7 p.m.

Jacob Resneck, CoastAlaska

Jacob Resneck is CoastAlaska's regional news director based in Juneau. CoastAlaska is our partner in Southeast Alaska. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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