Coal or Wind?I read with interest Brian Newton's letter advocating support for a $95 million, 30 year investment in buying and re-starting the experimental coal fired power plant in Healy at the same time suggesting it will keep your electric rates low and look toward the future.
Brian failed to mention this large investment which, if instead was invested in the proven wind resource at Eva Creek near Healy, could provide half as much electricity with NO fuel cost and NO carbon output. Thinking long term, it seems like a 0 fuel charge vs. a fuel charge likely to have substantive regulation and carbon based taxes is a better deal, but not to most of the GVEA board and management. The only way GVEA said they’d do Eva Creek is if they get a full grant. Should we wonder why they don't find a grant for the coal plant. Oh, darn, I forgot, both the state and feds already granted $300 million for it and still GVEA needs more.
GVEA has continued to raise rates to pay for loans for numerous capital projects in recent years' past, not just the fuel cost. Don't expect your rates to go down with another coal plant. We still have to pay off loans, including a new one for over $65 million for regular annual construction.
What about an energy efficient appliance replacement program? GVEA could provide a subsidy to ratepayers equal to the reduced consumption over a period of time. But WAIT, they don't WANT electricity usage to go down because they'll need to raise the service charge again instead of making oil the boogyman. Is there something wrong with this picture?
It seems hard for the entrenched to visualize a sustainable future. If GVEA can lobby so hard to get the membership to give up ownership of 3/4 of the utility's assets as they tried and failed a few years ago, I bet they could sell us on a 25 mw wind farm. Or give you a new refrigerator.