What the ML&P merger with Chugach Electric would mean for other utility providers

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - It’s been over a year since Anchorage voters approved a proposition to sell Municipal Light & Power to Chugach Electric Association.

This merger has many Alaskans wondering what will this mean for other utility providers across the state; however, it's up to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) to answer those questions before making a final decision on whether Chugach can purchase ML&P.

"It's very common in the regulatory process for there to be interveners and we know there's considerable interest in this acquisition,” said Julie Hasquet with Chugach Electric Association. “So basically we're just looking forward to this process and getting through it."

Some of the parties that have come forward and filed requests to address the RCA about the sale of ML&P, include two of its biggest customers; Providence Health Services and JBER.

While the AEDC has signed a letter of support for the move, and many of the public comments urge the RCA to finalize the sale, some groups, namely utility providers like the Homer Electric Association (HEA) have questions about whether or not this would disrupt the rail belt energy market.

"HEA's biggest concern is about the wholesale power market. Historically ML&P has provided very favorable, competitive prices to HEA,” said Bruce Shelly with the Homer Electric Association. “With only 5 rail belt utilities that can participate in the wholesale market, that means 20% of the market goes away with Chugach's purchase of ML&P."

The regulatory commission typically has around 6 months to make a ruling. Officials from Chugach Electric say that as of now, a final word from the RCA should come in November.

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