SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Electric Heat
By Samuel Bergeron


November 02, 2009
Monday PM

With the Swan-Tyee electrical intertie coming on line, it would be in all of our best interest as rate payers and owners of KPU and the Intertie, that we use it to its fullest extent.

My concept is very simple: if we have excess electrical generation capacities why not use it? We can sell excess generating capacity to heat homes and businesses at a reduced rate. Ketchikan Public Utilities buys electricity from the 2 Dam Pool at 6.8 cents a kilowatt hour. They could sell it to us for 7.5 cents for the purpose of heating our homes and businesses. If you use an energy conversion tool and compare what the break even point is in comparison to oil versus electric heat, you would find that at 7.5 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity, heating fuel would cost $1.98 a gallon including taxes. Today's heating oil costs about $3.01 with taxes. Even if you had electric heat at the current rate of 9.5 cents a kilowatt hour, you would have a break even point using oil at $2.51 a gallon with tax. We don't pay sales tax on the electricity we use here, so if you live in the City you would have an automatic 6% tax break versus oil or propane and 2.5% tax break if you live in the Borough.

Homes or businesses would need a separate electrical meter to get the rate reduction and probably a new service to accommodate the extra electrical load your electric boiler would need. Ask your local electrical contractor about what you may need to do this. I converted my 95 year old home from an oil fired boiler to an electric boiler last year. It was done by all local vendors and contractors and it works magnificently. It makes no smoke, is almost silent, you can't hear it unless you standing next to it. It never runs out of oil, requires far less maintenance than an oil fired furnace and now runs on rainfall, not fossil fuels and creates local jobs. I love it.

It is important to note that the intertie is not an unlimited power source. We are probably going to be using its maximum power generation capacity within 3-4 years. It is comforting to know that other hydro power sources are slated to come online as we switch to lower cost, abundant hydro power. This should not affect the decision to charge a different rate for electrically heat homes and businesses; we should have the generation capacity in place as the demand increases.

As you can see by the cost comparisons electric heat is the way to go. Converting to electric heat creates jobs, saves precious fossil fuels and boosts our local economy. Think of the jobs this would create. Think of the money we could save and keep right here at home instead of sending it to Arco, Exxon and BP.

Call your City Council members and tell them they should consider a lower electrical rate for heating.

Thanks for listening.

Sam Bergeron
Ketchikan, AK

About: " I have served on the Borough Assembly, City Council, Planning Commission and KIC Tribal Council and numerous boards and committees."

Received October 30, 2009 - Published November 02, 2009


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Ketchikan, Alaska