Rate debate has new player: Land's End allowed to intervene in HEA hearings

Posted: Friday, March 25, 2011

Although hearings for Homer Electric Association's proposed rate restructuring are still many months out, state regulators have introduced two game-changers to the process.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska recently notified Homer Electric and Land's End Acquisition Corporation that it was granting Land's End's petition to intervene, meaning that Land's End is now a full participant in the process, not just an observer. And on March 18, the commission ordered both companies to revise the schedule, which originally set hearings for October 2011. In an emailed order, the RCA's Jim Walker said the commission won't have time to consider the HEA matter in October because of trans-Alaska pipeline hearings.

The order gave the utility and Land's End the option to work together on one proposal, or to each come up with their own.

The utility's major proposed changes would increase the customer charge from $11 to $15, decrease the energy base rate and create a minimum monthly energy charge.

Land's End has argued that the changes are not that simple, and the company wanted an active role in the process, to better understand the changes and represent commercial interests. The commission's decision puts Land's End in a position to get that information.

So far, commission proceedings are largely about timing and procedure, not fact-finding. That comes next, and will conclude with hearings later this year, or in early 2012.

If Homer Electric and Land's End propose to push the hearings back to February, it would require an extension of the statutory deadline for the rate change, which is currently Jan. 26, 2012. The commission would need 90 days to make a decision after the hearings are held.

This change is separate from the quarterly rate adjustment that is scheduled for April 1.

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@peninsulaclarion.com.

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