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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Encouragement to Councilman Bergeron
By A. M. Johnson


January 19, 2013
Saturday AM

Exciting to hear Sam Bergeron's remarks on the various City of Ketchikan expenditures and forecast for future fiscal endeavors. It truly is breath of fresh air.

You understand Sam, as a Borough residents, we participate with what we can as the City of Ketchikan fiscal tax bite is applied. For our "Freedom" there is a cost. That being said, there is a common area of concern that effects both government bodies residents.


It is my understanding that you will soon be the third appointment to the board of South East Alaska Power Assn. (SEAPA)membership, appointments work on a rotating basis between the three communities, Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg, who make up SEAPA, your appointment is in the cycle representing Ketchikan with three seats.

As a council member, it must be assumed that you are aware of the critical point that the power generation has been stressed to. SEAPA is struggling. not all by their inactivity,rather on unforeseen demand upon limited hydro capacity.

Yes, you and the council are arm pit deep into the Whitman lake project. Based on the inward looking of the three communities to finding hydro sources within our geographic area is commendable if not short sighted. yet it does reflect some awareness to the increasing demand for electrical power without looking elsewhere. Now I see the council is to entertain a Metlakatla generation package.-Bravo.

You have been on the council and exposed to the workings of SEAPA agreements to know that Wrangell and Petersburg have first dibs on the power from Tyee. Ketchikan obtains surplus. that agreement, drawn when Swan lake was reaching reliable generation capacity and Tyee had a huge surplus of hydro capacity.

All well and good was it not Sam,when and before the advent of electrical heating for residential took off in both Wrangell and Petersburg as the price of heating fuel oil rose to over $4.00 plus and electric heat became desirable when the price of fuel oil hit $3.00+ -? Now Sam, there is no extra hydro generation of any scope and size available to Ketchikan from Tyee.

Hence. to supplement low snow pack, lack of rain run off to make the summer demands, we fine the need to fire up the diesels pending Whitman and or Metlakatla. All logical, save for the high cost of fuel for the diesels.

Now Sam, I want to put a picture in your mind. Hydro generated electrical power is far cheaper than fuel oil fired home heating. So converting to electrical heat makes economical sense for any far thinking resident to consider. Now and then with the need to fire up the diesels to supplement, the system produces very expensive electrical power to use with electrical heating installations. This is not a point of trying to insult the system, it just is the way it is working out. So those of us who continue to use expensive heating oil pay the diesel surcharge as those not continuing with expensive heating oil, heating with diesel powered electrical heating.
They enjoy their largess at our expense. Again no complaint by me. That is the way the cookie crumbles.

So why am I contacting you via Sitnews? Simple Sam, it is called "thinking outside of the box". Let me lay this out as simple as I can.
trusting the general public will follow along and soon wake to the fact reliable consistent power is in jeopardy and a solution exist to be explored.

(1) There exist a congressional approved non-retractable, non-unchallengeable right of way in place from the Tyee power house in the Bradfield Canal to the Canadian border, some 30 miles in length. Within this right of way there would be established:

(a.) Electrical transmission line to connect with the under construction 287 Kilo Volt transmission line running from Terrace B.C. to Bob Quinn Lake following highway 37.This line will be completed and fired up in the Spring of 2014.

Here are three video for your review. Should they not come up upon clicking on them, highlight them and transfer to Google.

(2) The route chosen will be wide enough to include a road construction for the transmission line and then as an future access to highway 37. (Paved,I might add) (With the advent of the State turning their attention to day ferries, the concept of smaller ferries working between communities will again raise up as a discussion. A highway access to a major Canadian highway via the Bradfield Canal will no doubt, be attractive.

(3) Within this route would be the possibility of a slurry pipeline to carry mineral extracted in B.C. to tidewater and shipped out to foreign ports. Currently Canadian mining operations are contemplating long-haul trucking of ore to Stewart or to a rail head even further away.
A sea water access will appeal to these Canadian resource developments. To give you an idea of what is involved with the mining interest on the B.C. side next door to us, I have included a well written environmental paper reflecting much of what is happening. Please take advantage and study the various maps included. You can click on the white maps once and then again to enlarge them. You will note much of what is discussed here within this paper.

So Sam, what has to transpire for this to happen? Well Sam it is really quite simple. The state has already made a survey of the Bradfield area. A refresher review and a choosing of the route and land selection by DOT will be the first step. This selection is then forwarded to the Federal department of interior. As the right of way legal steps to acquire have been accomplished through Senator Stevens and Representative Young, there will be no debate and the simple transfer of the land selected will proceed. When the State has ownership of the land, the Alaska Energy Authority will,could or should offer a public offering to have private capital construct a power transmission line. In doing so, the construction road will be the same time. With private capital, the State will not have to fund this construction.

With the competition of the line, power from B.C. Hydro will flow at a steady and consistent pace. The rate of electrical charge will be over sighed by FERC, the same body that governs the oversight of SEAPA. As an added bonus, the various hydro potential such as Thomas Bay 110 Megawatts, Mahoney 9 Megawatts, Annette Island with some 6 to 9 Megawatts (or 34.5 Kilovolts) (I am not sure on these quantities but fair to close) plus any excess that is developed via SEAPA would and could be sold to the lower 48 states. There is just no loser in beginning the exploration of this source of electrical power for Southern Southeast Alaska.

Sam, you are well aware that the State of Alaska in spite of its oil wealth, is facing budget constraints. Southeast Alaska has been hit with a disparaging elected representation with only one Senator and one Representative. As good as they may be in their efforts, gaining future capital funding will not be an assured thing. Meanwhile the demand for electrical need will increase. Even with Whitman on line or adding Metlakatla's surplus you will find we are short of economical development offering should the area have an opportunity to gain the opportunity.

Sam,I ask that you consider this epistle, do your own due diligent to ascertain if the majority of my offering hold truth. I understand that my asking may place you in some sort of quandary as you take you seat on the SEAPA board along with Councilmembers Dick Coose and Bob Sivertsen. With the future of the Ketchikan area underpowered , looking at all options must be a factor in your deliberations. You by your election to the council must do what is right for the elected body not the appointed body.

I look forward to common sense decisions with the community at heart.


Ketchikan, AK

About: " I try to live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God."

Received January 17, 2013 - Published January 19, 2013

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