SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


State Agencies Addressing Juneau Power


April 23, 2008

Governor Sarah Palin announced Tuesday that multiple state agencies are working closely with Alaska Electric Light & Power (AEL&P) to assess the damage and develop a plan to recover hydropower in Juneau.

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration are traveling to Juneau to analyze the situation. Members of the governor's disaster policy cabinet will meet on Wednesday to discuss declaring a state disaster.

Last week, a massive avalanche destroyed a transmission tower and more than a mile of the Snettisham Hydroelectric facility transmission line. The line, about 40 miles from downtown, connects hydropower to the Juneau service area. AEL&P is using diesel generators to supply power.

"Juneau residents have really stepped up to the plate," Governor Palin said. "Many families and businesses are taking some simple steps that will help keep costs down by reducing energy use as repairs get underway."

The members of the Juneau Legislative Delegation announced they are working hard in response to the avalanche that downed one-and-a-half miles of power transmission lines from the Snettisham hydro-electric generation plant. The outage means almost all of Juneau's power will be diesel generated for as long as three months. This may raise costs by as much as five times, and, for now, much of that cost may be passed on to the customers of AEL&P, the local power utility.
"Many people simply can't afford a 500 percent increase in their power bill," said House Democratic Leader Rep. Beth Kerttula (D-Juneau). It's too much for many families to bear, and many local businesses could be in danger of shutting their doors. We're working hard to stop that from happening."
Kerttula, along with Sen. Kim Elton and Rep. Andrea Doll (both D-Juneau) have already contacted Gov. Sarah Palin and asked for state assistance. The City and Borough of Juneau has declared a local state of disaster, and the state will determine whether or not this situation meets the criteria on Wednesday. If the governor issues a disaster declaration it will free up state dollars for relief efforts. The administration has asked all state agencies to find ways to expedite repairs and also to provide relief for the escalating costs. The delegation is also working with the city and borough, AEL&P and other local, state and federal agencies to find workable solutions.
"This is a strong community," Elton said, "and people have already cut their power usage by as much as 20 percent. At the same time the local and state governments must work together to make sure people come through this crisis safely and financially intact."
The delegation's initial concern is for public safety.
"We don't want people turning off their heat and power, sitting home in the cold and dark in fear of huge electric bills," Doll said. "We're working to find good solutions so people in Juneau can be safe and still afford to pay their bills."
One possible form of relief is the state's LIHEAP program, which provides energy assistance grants to Alaskans at or below 150 percent of the poverty level. The deadline for applications is April 30.
Elton, Kerttula and Doll will stay in contact with people in Juneau to keep them up to date on Snettisham news, and they will set up links on their web pages where concerned citizens and business owners can go for up-to-date information.


On the Web:

LIHEAP program

Application Form
It can faxed to 465-3319.

Information about the program


Source of News:

Office of the Governor
Sen. Kim Elton and Rep. Andrea Doll (both D-Juneau)
House Democratic Leader Rep. Beth Kerttula (D-Juneau)


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska