Thursday, October 26, 2006

GVEA closed policies, G&T actions and more

The GVEA board met Oct. 23, 2006 and took action on a number of items, even if I wasn't there (:-).

They approved the ballot to go to the GVEA membership. There are two ballot items, one to allow all but board members and spouses to participate in Alternative Energy programs (SNAP), where currently extended relatives and employees can't. This isn't controversial and makes sense for as many people as possible to participate in everyone's best interest.

The second ballot measure is the transfer of GVEA power plants and hi voltage transmission lines to a separate company, GVEA G&T, that is run by GVEA (board and staff), not by the members. There was a motion approved to have the board of GVEA be the representatives on the GVEA G&T. The motion to approve this ballot measure and the vote on the bylaws themselves referenced in an earlier blog was 5-1, with board member Tom Delong on record opposing the G&T transfer.

An interesting aspect is that, now that the board took a vote in the affirmative, ALL board members are supposed to officially support it. This is in accordance to a board policy that was written to insure that the board appears to be all one big happy family to the public. They would likely say that they don't want to be like other more fractious utilities in Alaska like Chugach or MEA.

This policy is very undemocratic and unhealthy, much like my view of some national administrations. GVEA will argue this is common for private companies, but GVEA is a quasi-public company that represents 35,000 families and businesses throughout Interior Alaska, more than the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the school district, and certainly any Interior city. Democracy can be messy, but the outcome of actions becomes better than under the veil of secrecy.

I've thought that this stifles the ability and responsibility of board members to communicate to their constituents. Even the MAC Committee, supposed to foster this communications, is pretty much just a small extension of the board. The membership as a whole remain cut out unless they actively jump in. GVEA doesn't even list the MAC member contact info on the website. I asked for this list from GVEA, but got no response, as the posted list is out of date. Why doesn't GVEA have a way for directors to communicate with their constituents? I'd feel claustrophobic as a director.

I was told that the last and only time the G&T company met was in July 2005, despite a requirement to hold annual meetings. The minutes are not publicly available as they haven't been approved. Now that the G&T board is totally different, it seems odd to have people who weren't present approving the minutes.

I'm told that Dwight Nissen, board member from Delta area district, resigned for health reasons. Nominations are already being taken.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

GVEA bylaws for G&T formation ballot to members

At the GVEA special board meeting Oct. 16, 2006, the board tweaked their recommended bylaws for the G&T (Generation and Transmission) cooperative and approved sending the proposal to the GVEA members, with only one board member opposed. I've linked the final bylaws as well as my extended comments to the GVEA board.

The board will be taking this up one more time Oct. 23, 2006 to approve the ballot language and dedicating funds and hearing a staff plan for communicating this proposal to members. If it is to pass, it must be approved by a majority of GVEA members and at least 10% of our membership must vote.

As readers of previous entries realize, I am not in favor of this proposal and will vote against it. It really comes down to us member-owners of GVEA giving up our $300 million assets (BESS, Healy Power Plant, N.P. power plants old and new, and all our major and minor tielines to this G&T cooperative (of only GVEA) in exchange for the promise of reduced interest rates for the loans out on those assets that are to be transferred to the G&T. The implication is that our electric rates will be reduced by about $30 million over the next 5 years, but GVEA has said we probably won't see rates go down, suggesting that they just won't go up as much.

I think that the trade-off of possible reduced rates isn't worth giving up control of our assets. The G&T will be controlled by a board that may have representatives of the GVEA Board on it, but I expect it to be weighted toward GVEA staff, as it is now totally composed of. I also believe that, as GVEA will be purchasing wholesale power from the G&T, we member-owners won't have the transparency or input that we currently have, particularly with respect to the cost of power. GVEA will become a much smaller operation.

Some have suggested that this is an attempt for GVEA to get some of its operations out from under state regulatory authority (RCA). I believe that GVEA and most utilities would be happy to run their own show without the perceived interference of regulation. I also believe that these regulators help protect the members' and public's interests.

If you have read this far and follow the earlier links and blog entries, you can make up your own mind and be an educated member when presented with the glowing scenario by GVEA.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

GVEA back to flawed bylaws of the G&T

I'm told that GVEA board has reverted back to the original flawed bylaws for the GVEA G&T and will formalize that vote at a special meeting Mon. Oct. 16, 3 pm.

Since this proposal doesn't seem to be well thought out and they are plunging on ahead anyway, I'm thinking there must be some rush to do this, like a financial benchmark that they won't meet, which will cost the utility more. They could then use the offset $30 mm to make up the difference and nobody is the wiser. Speculation on my part. Any comments?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Newman comments on GVEA G&T bylaws draft of Sept. 25, 2006

As I indicated in the previous entry, I did have some comments on the Sept. 25, 2006 draft of the bylaws. Here they are

And for the record, the RCA filings on the GVEA G&T proposal are on their website.

Sept draft bylaws GVEA G&T

The GVEA board reviewed some proposed changes to the bylaws of the G&T. So that I could give them a markup of my comments on those changes, they provided me a copy. It was a nice courtesy of them to do so, and also in their best interest as I still have substantive concerns on behalf of the GVEA membership that they should address.

The GVEA Board did have a special meeting on this draft on Oct. 3, 2006, but I have no information on any action taken

Draft G&T bylaws Sept. 25, 2006