Alaska AG tells state regulators to rule on power plant complaint

Legal News Line Sep. 10, 2007, 6:33am

Bill Erickson

JUNEAU -- Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg has refused to weigh in on a controversial plan to build two new power stations in south-central Alaska. The Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) will now have to decide by itself the validity of claims against the Matanuska Electric Association (MEA) by a member, Wasilla resident Bill Erickson. The RCA recently invited Colberg's office to offer an opinion on the dispute. The MEA plans to build the two 100-megawatt generation plants - one coal-fired and one gas-fired - by 2015. Erickson claims MEA did not sufficiently involve mebers in the new construction decision before proceeding, LNL reported last month. Colberg's office declined late last month to check out Erickson's claims against the MEA, the Anchorage Daily News reported recently. A letter from chief assisatnt attorney general Daniel O'Tierney instead advised the RCA to investigate them itself. Nonetheless, the charges "give rise to serious and substantial questions for the commission's consideration, particularly with regard to MEA's plans to build, operate and rely exclusively on its own generation resources," The Daily News quoted O'Tierney as writing. MEA, which has 52,000 members north of Anchorage, currently buys most of its electricity from nearby Chugach Electric Association. The Association claims a majority of its members have approved a plan to generate its own power. The five-member RCA must now decide whether to proceed with Erickson's request for a probe into the MEA's decision to build the two power plants. The complaint is only the second the RCA has ever received on Alaska utility issues.

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