Three major Southcentral utility companies say customers should expect their electric bills to go up. One company says rates could rise 10 percent, while another says a worst-case scenario could triple costs in the Mat-Su Valley.
Chugach Electric Association, Matanuska Electric Association, Inc. and Municipal Light & Power all spoke at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce luncheon Monday afternoon. The utilities say Cook Inlet, which is where the companies get their natural gas, isn’t keeping up with demand. All three are building major infrastructure projects meant to lower rates in the future, but right now the construction costs for those projects are being passed on to customers.
Joe Griffith, the general manager at MEA, says liquefied natural gas may have to be imported, but he’s also looking at using propane and diesel.
“The backup plan is very costly,” Griffith said. “I can switch on-the-fly to diesel, but the price goes up triple when you do that.”
Phil Steyer with Chugach Electric didn’t have an exact amount bills could increase, but he did suggest a way to estimate increases.
“You might look at what you pay Chugach this year and budget for 5 to 10 percent more over the course of next year than you did over this year,” Steyer said.
The Regulatory Commission of Alaska would have to approve a rate increase. ML&P says it may ask for one as early as January.
Contact Rebecca Palsha