Snettisham complaints down since last crisis

Posted: Sunday, January 25, 2009

Unlike the last time the Snettisham line went down, Juneau residents haven't been complaining to state regulators about their electric utility.

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Kate Golden / Juneau Empire
Kate Golden / Juneau Empire

"There's definitely less reaction from consumers at this time," said Grace Salazar, chief of consumer protection and information at the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

She said she hadn't received informal complaints, only general inquiries.

In last spring's energy emergency, the regulatory commission received 32 complaints about Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. in the first two weeks.

Salazar also said she thought AEL&P was doing "a really good job," in both communicating with regulators and fixing the line quickly.

This is the second time an avalanche has taken out the line to Juneau's hydroelectric power and forced the utility to run the grid on more-expensive diesel. Residential rates are estimated roughly to double for one month as consumers cover the diesel, which is allowed under AEL&P's tariff.

Last time, diesel was more expensive and repairs were expected to last longer. The utility initially asked - though it took back the request - for the first month of steep rates to be effective retroactively. Some energy consumers would have been charged for days before the avalanche, before they could conserve energy.

Ultimately, residential consumers paid for one month at 52 cents per kilowatt-hour and one month at 11 cents. The base rate is 9.6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

This time, the utility projected a single month at 20 to 25 cents per kilowatt-hour, if repairs finish on time.

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