Alaska Electric Light and Power has been a privately owned utility since it was founded in 1893 by Willis Thorpe, who sold it three years later to four miners, including John Parker Corbus and Adam Corbus.
Today Corbus descendants own majority stock in Alaska Energy and Resources, the parent company of AEL&P, a wholly owned subsidiary. Bill Corbus of Juneau, who runs both companies, owns 48 percent of AER, while George B. Corbus owns 6 percent, according to a report filed this year with the state Division of Banking, Securities and Corporations. California's Stanford University owns 11 percent of the company, according to the report, which says AER consists of 1 million shares. Approximately 100 other private investors own the rest, said David Stone, spokesman for AEL&P.
Stone said many of the investors bought shares in the 1970s when the company sold them to raise money. Although AER is not publicly traded, the shares sometimes come up for sale, said Stone, noting people who want to invest in AER should contact the company.
Investor-owned utilities are common in the United States, according to Jim Owen, spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, an association representing 200 privately owned utilities nationwide. However, most are publicly traded on the stock market; Juneau's utility is not. Owen could identify only two other utilities in the Lower 48 with ownership arrangements similar to AEL&P's. Many other utilities in the country are owned by municipalities or public cooperatives.
AEL&P is regulated the same as publicly owned electric utilities, said Agnes Pitts, spokeswoman for the state Regulatory Commission of Alaska. The utility cannot change its rates without approval by the state, said Pitts, adding the RCA also oversees management of AEL&P's electrical facilities. AEL&P also is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, she said.
Kathy Dye may be reached at email@example.com.