Docks and Harbors set to increase power fees 20 percent

Posted: Sunday, August 29, 2010

Due to an Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. rate hike of about 20 percent, Juneau's Docks and Harbors Department has approved increasing its shore power fees by the same percentage.

Port Director John Stone said they're adjusting the rate to recover what's being passed onto them. The measure was approved by the finance committee. Thursday, the Docks and Harbors Board approved the increase. Only one board member, Cheryl Jebe, objected.

Jebe said she would not support the 20 percent increase, saying she has a 200 square foot house and doesn't pay that much for electricity.

"I think it's unfair," she said.

While the Docks and Harbors board approved the fee increase, the measure must go before the City Assembly for approval before it can be put in place. Stone said he believes it will be on the Sept. 20 agenda.

The fee increase will apply to those who receive non-metered service or those who don't have an established account with AEL&P.

Prior to the discussion on the rate increase, a Douglas Harbor resident asked about broken meters. She said she pays $141.75 a month flat fee for 30 amp service in the winter and believes she uses less power than that. She estimated that the increase would bring that rate up to $180, however, Board Chairman Jim Preston said the maximum would be $162 under the increase.

The Douglas Harbor resident said she was under the impression shore power fees were supposed to be revenue neutral.

Stone said it will still be revenue neutral. Docks and Harbors customers pay about 80 percent of the cost of shore power, he said. The other 20 percent is from lights and heat trays and the department absorbs the costs. Stone said the fees collected for power don't include any administration of the plans. The harbor master and other staff spend a considerable amount of time administering the program because there are so many different systems through the harbors, and different kinds of customers, he said.

Aside from the Douglas Harbor resident's concerns with metering, no other public comment was given at the meeting.

According to a document by Port Administrative Officer Roy McLeod, the 20 percent increase the department is asking is assuming that consumption rates remain the same. If the measure ultimately fails, Docks and Harbors will only recover 67 percent of the cost of shore power.

"If we do not raise our rates by a corresponding 20 percent, this will become unsustainable and a future rate increase would eventually become necessary but possibly politically impossible," McLeod wrote.

• Contact Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.



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