The utility that provides power to Hoonah and several other predominately Native villages is seeking electric rate increases of more than 10 percent for communities that already have some of the most expensive power in Southeast Alaska.
The Inland Passage Electric Co-op has filed with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska seeking a 10.62 percent permanent rate increase. There currently is a temporary 7.96 percent rate increase that will hold until the permanent increase takes place.
"We don't try to make a profit, but we certainly have to cover our costs," said Jerry Medina, administrative officer for the co-op.
The increase in the IPEC communities is expected to be about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour to 46.20 cents, compared to the total rate of less than 10 cents per kilowatt-hour in Juneau.
The proposed power rate increase is separate from the cost of power adjustments made when fuel costs soar, and is intended to cover increasing operational costs, Medina said.
"Everything over time increases," he said.
IPEC began telling customers early last year in its newsletter that a rate increase was likely coming.
"I think they know its coming," Medina said.
IPEC gets nearly all of its electricity from diesel fuel.
Like most other small, diesel-powered communities, the state's Power Cost Equalization program helps subsidize rates there and reduces some power rates to about 19.44 cents per kilowatt hour. PCE is a residential program not available to business customers.
IPEC was formerly called the Tlingit-Haida Regional Electric Authority. It serves Hoonah, Kake, Angoon, Klukwan and the Chilkat Valley, with 1,041 residential customers and 262 other customers. Total population of the communities is 2,815.
IPEC is working to find other power sources for its communities, including connecting Kake to Petersburg with a new intertie and getting a hydroelectric dam for Angoon. Others, such as Hoonah, are going to be more difficult to wean off diesel, but the co-op is working on options there as well, Medina said.
"Our goal is to be diesel-independent by 2015," he said.
A hoped-for connection between Hoonah and AEL&P's transmission line to the Greens Creek Mine on Admiralty Island is on hold, however, as the estimated cost of a submarine cable has soared to $45 million, Medina said.
Contact reporter Pat Forgeyat firstname.lastname@example.org.
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