SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Energy Questions and Solutions
By Sam Bergeron


June 29, 2011

We have an energy problem here in Ketchikan. We have spiraling fuel oil costs, coupled with an electrical grid that is maxed out for inexpensive hydro-electric generation. We need to act now to reverse the demand we now place on our electrical grid by using alternate technologies and learn to use our resources wisely.

Presently I serve on the KPU advisory board. The focus of this board is to examine the issues facing KPU and advise the City Council on policy and give recommendations. The number one recommendation from staff is to raise electrical rates on higher volume electric users with a graduated electrical rate. The concept of a graduated rate is to discourage those of us who would use electric heat instead $4.52 per gallon heating oil. This is going to create a financial windfall for the utility and a financial burden on rate payers who heat all or in part with electricity. This is unfortunate for all of us but it will hit those of us particularly hard who have lower or fixed incomes.

This rate increase is probably coming and soon. What can we do to put off this rate increase and lessen the demand on our electrical grid? We can conserve and use alternate energy sources.

The City and Borough governments in this instance should take the lead in recognizing that the hydro-electric power generation is at full capacity and not contribute to this problem but help reverse it.

Specifically and foremost is the pool project, this project is slated to have electric heat and electric hot water to heat the pool and the building with a diesel boiler as a back-up system. This will significantly add to the electrical demand, hastening KPU to using diesel generation and give the City Council more reasons to adjust the low rates we all enjoy now. Don t forget the projected electrical rates used to choose electricity as fuel source will be increasing dramatically, and no longer is electricity the best choice as it will be super expensive to operate the pool under the new, upcoming rate plan.

We have the new Fire Station and the Library to consider as well.

Why are we putting oil burners in these buildings when the probable long term forecast for the cost of heating oil is higher than it is today and projected to explode as soon we get out of this economic downturn? We have commercial buildings in town that are converting to wood pellet/biomass boilers now: the Discovery Center and the Federal Building. Wood pellet boilers should be the primary heating choice for all future commercial buildings including the: pool, fire station and the new library. It will save the hydro-electricity for the citizen s of Ketchikan and create new jobs. See my last letter for more information on wood pellet technology .

Thanks for listening!

Samuel Bergeron
Ketchikan, AK

About: "I was the superintendent on the first commercial wood pellet boiler installation in Juneau last fall and winter and a convert to the wood pellet technology. I m a life-long Alaskan, concerned citizen and a fiscal conservative. I ve served on the City Council, Borough Assembly and KIC Tribal as Council President and as a Council Member. I currently hold a seat on the Planning Commission, KPU Advisory Board and the Pledac Board. "

Received June 28, 2011 - Published June 29, 2011


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska