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HEA wants to advance alternate energies

Posted: Tuesday, March 04, 2008

If Homer Electric Association gets the green light from state regulators, the utility would like to offer members a chance to help advance the cause of renewable energy.

Management staff met Monday to determine how to proceed in order to win Regulatory Commission of Alaska approval for the program, according to HEA spokesman Joe Gallagher.

Known as SNAP, which stands for Sustainable Natural Alternative Power, the program asks HEA members to contribute money toward alternative, renewable energy, and pays power generators for putting the power on HEA's grid.

SNAP producers would be limited to small solar, wind, geothermal or hydro installations producing 25 kilowatts or less.

HEA members would voluntarily pay between $2 and $50 extra each month as part of their electric bill. The money goes into the SNAP fund, and at the end of the year, the funds are paid to the producers at 5 cents per kilowatt, plus an annual SNAP payment, most likely capped at $1.50 per kilowatt hour, Gallagher said.

One restriction of the program is that all power generated by a SNAP producer must be put on the HEA grid; none may be retained for personal use. Member producers would still be required to continue purchasing their electricity from HEA at the normal rates, Gallagher said.

The intangible benefit received by members who contribute money to the SNAP program is the satisfaction of supporting renewable energy, he said.

Although HEA does not know how many alternate energy producers exist within the HEA service area, 100 percent of more than 100 members who recently responded to an online survey said they would be interested in participating in SNAP, either as contributors or as power generators, he said.

In Fairbanks, where SNAP recently was adopted, 550 customers have signed up to contribute $34,000 annually, and Golden Valley Electric Association there has 20 producers.

If HEA receives regulatory commission approval, Gallagher said the program could be in place by this summer.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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