HEA board gets 2 new members

Posted: Friday, May 09, 2003

A kind of changing of the guard happened Wednesday in Homer when a pair of long-time incumbent members of Homer Electric Association Board of Directors lost their bids for re-election.

The occasion of the election was the utility's 53rd annual meeting, this year held at Homer High School.

Gone are nine-year board veteran and current board President Ron Rainey, of Kenai, of District 1, and District 3 representative Robert Turkington, of Homer, a board member for 37 years.

John Michael Standefer, of Kasilof, unseated Turkington, while Bruce Passe, of Kenai, turned out Rainey in a three-way contest that included Richard C. deMello Jr. of Kenai. David R. Carey, current mayor of Soldotna, ran unopposed for his District 2 seat.

In the District 1 race, Bruce Passe garnered 1,727 votes to Rainey's 1,643 and deMello's 510. In District 2, Carey got all 3,484 votes, while in District 3, Standefer took 2,322 votes, easily outdistancing Turking-ton's 1,608. There were a total of 4,431 valid votes.

"I'm really appreciative and I want to thank everyone who voted for me and I promise to do the best that I can," Passe said following the announcement that he'd won.

Standefer attributed his victory to good support. He praised his opponent.

"I certainly wouldn't take anything away from Mr. Turkington's effort, I really admire his work. I want to do the best for our co-op and the Kenai Peninsula. That's the whole goal," he said.

The electric utility apparently is in pretty good financial shape. Board Treasurer Ruth Fitzpatrick reported that the utility ended 2002 with total revenues and non-operating income of $46 million and total costs of $45 million, resulting in "a positive margin of $1 million."

When revenues exceed costs, the excess is returned to members through refunds from individual capital credit accounts in proportion to the amount of electricity each consumer uses.

HEA recorded a 3.5 percent increase in kilowatt-hour sales for residential consumers and a 1.5 percent increase for commercial and industrial consumers, which led to an overall 2 percent increase over 2001. In all, 486.9 million kilowatt-hours were delivered in 2002.

Revenue from energy sales hit $43.8 million, just over 41 percent of that derived from service to residences, and almost 55 percent from commercial service.

HEA serves about 19,000 member-owners with 2,119 miles of energized line serving 24,252 active meters in a service area covering 3,166 square miles. Of those meters, 20,928 are residential and 3,324 are commercial or industrial, according to current HEA figures.

The utility's power comes from the 39-megawatt Nikiski Cogen-eration Project, the 2.5-megawatt Seldovia Power Plant, and 14 megawatts from Bradley Lake Hydroelectric Dam.

General Manager Norm Story reported progress in HEA's Geo-graphical Information System and in efforts to clear beetle-killed trees from 187 miles of power line between Kasilof and Anchor Point. Since 1999, $2.8 million has been spent clearing trees, a little over $1 million of it federal funds.

During the meeting, Soldotna resident Jim Fassler, a frequent critic of HEA, asked the board to consider several actions during the coming year. He requested a management audit and an audit of Homer Electric Line Services LLC, which was created to build electric services and install telephone lines. He also asked that the board change annual meetings back to Saturdays to permit more members to attend, and that the board reconsider plans for a new $6.5 million headquarters in Homer.

Rainey said the board would consider those issues.

Joe Gallagher, spokesperson for HEA, confirmed that a new service center in Homer was an element in the utility's long-range plan, but it was not an imminent project.

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