Village on the verge of losing electricity

Posted: Friday, July 22, 2005

The village of Chevak, behind in its electric bills by $149,700, is about to lose power to its public buildings, which would shut down basic services such as sewer and water.

The village of about 900 on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is scheduled at the beginning of August to lose electricity to city offices, the local health clinic, street lights, the fire station and the village public safety officer building, according to the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative.

For Chevak to keep the lights on it must pay a portion of the $149,700 bill and agree to a payment plan, said Mark Teitzel, AVEC vice president and engineering manager.

Mike Black, director of the state Division of Community Advocacy, said he is sending staff to Chevak next week to assess the financial situation and work with village officials to try to keep the lights on.

He said the top priorities are seeing that power is not cut to the sewer and water system, city offices and the local health clinic.

"If we were able to address those three services and make arrangements with AVEC, our greatest concerns would be dealt with," Black said.

Chevak Mayor William Vaudrin did not return phone calls requesting an interview.

Richard Tuluk, an administrator for Chevak Traditional Council, the tribal leaders in the Cup'ik Eskimo village, said many residents are worried and local groups are meeting with administrators to find a solution.

In June, AVEC informed 17 rural communities that they would lose power if they did not pay their debts. Teitzel said Thursday that all but Chevak have paid or arranged with the cooperative to pay.

Residents of the village were sent a letter July 8, warning them that the power could be shut off by Aug. 1, he said. The power would be cut off to public buildings, not village homes.

AVEC provides electric service to 52 communities in rural Alaska.



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