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AEL&P pushes for Anchorage rate hearing

Hearing's A/V needs, ability to accommodate witnesses can't be met in Juneau, utility's attorney says

Posted: Monday, February 21, 2011

Alaska Electric Light & Power is arguing against efforts in Juneau to get the utility’s rate increase hearing to be held in the community.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska is currently deciding AEL&P’s request to raise electric bills 22 percent.

A commission judge has tentatively moved the five-day May hearing from Anchorage to Juneau, following requests from the City Assembly, the Tlingit-Haida Central Council and the Juneau People’s Power Project consumer group.

AEL&P’s Anchorage-based attorney is now arguing that the hearing should be held in Anchorage.

The hearing is an “evidentiary” hearing in which experts present and debate the technical data on which the RCA will make its decision.

The hearing will need “accommodation of witness examination, projection and ‘whiteboard’ exhibits, and adequate audio and transcription capability,” AEL&P attorney Paul Jones said in a filing to the RCA.

“In this regard, AEL&P does not believe that a convention hall (such as Centennial Hall) is an adequate substitute,” he said.

Jones said AEL&P wasn’t opposed to a hearing in Juneau if facilities were available, but they aren’t.

Also, they want every commissioner to be able to be at the hearing, and teleconferencing is not an adequate substitute, Jones said.

AEL&P also asked the RCA “clarify” the May hearing was not a public consumer input hearing, but instead was a “evidentiary” hearing.

A consumer input hearing was already held in Juneau, he said.

The clarification is necessary “to prevent misunderstandings and incorrect expectations by the public regarding the hearing,” Jones said.

JPPP’s Cheryl Moralez told the RCA the expert witnesses would likely have to travel to either Juneau or Anchorage, but AEL&P and the people affected by the rate increase were all in Juneau.

“I feel confident that the people of the City and Borough of Juneau would sincerely appreciate the effort set forth by the Commission in order to hold the hearing in Juneau,” she told the RCA.

An earlier hearing on AEL&P’s temporary and interim rate increase was held in Juneau last year.

The RCA has approved a temporary and refundable rate increase of 18.5 percent, slightly lower than the company’s full request. The state Attorney General’s Office recommended a much lower rate increase than AEL&P has requested.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 586-4816 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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