AELP seeks extension of Hecla deal, wider season to sell power to Princess

AEL&P's main offices, pictured here on March 24, 2018, are located in the Lemon Creek area in Juneau.
AEL&P’s main offices, pictured here on March 24, 2018, are located in the Lemon Creek area in Juneau. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Juneau’s electric utility is asking state regulators for some changes to contracts with two of its big customers: Hecla Greens Creek Mining Company and Princess Cruises.

Alaska Electric Light & Power filed paperwork on Wednesday asking the Regulatory of Commission of Alaska to OK a one-year extension of its existing deal with the mine on Admiralty Island.

For the cruise ship giant, the utility wants to widen the season for when the vessels can buy power in port to April through October. When the deal was first struck in 2001, it was May through September.

Unlike the utility’s 17,000 regular electric customers, Hecla and Princess are interruptible; the utility can only sell Hecla and Princess power after regular customers’ demand is met. AELP can also cut the supply to Hecla and Princess at any time.

When there’s lots of rain and the hydropower utility’s generating capacity is good, the sales to interruptible customers reduce the regular customers’ electric bills. It also reduces the companies’ use of fossil fuels.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska is taking public comment on the proposals for Hecla and Princess through Jan. 19. The commission has until Feb. 1 to decide.