Representatives explain their actions

Posted: Friday, July 28, 2006

On July 13, during a joint session, the Alaska Senate and House voted to override Governor Murkowski’s veto of $73.5 million to various electric cooperatives, including funds benefiting Homer Electric Association (HEA).

Unfortunately, that attempt was not successful; an override requires a three-quarters vote of both bodies which is a difficult bar to overcome.

We want you to know that all the members of the Kenai Peninsula delegation voted to override that veto — here’s why.

At stake for us was $25 million for energy needs for our homes and businesses.

Of that, $12.5 million was for the Healy Clean Coal Project, a 50 mega-watt plant owned by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA). Last October, HEA signed an agreement with AIDEA outlining the terms for operating the plant and then buying the power. The other $12.5 million was for the Nikiski facility generation and to upgrade transmission facilities on the peninsula.

Governor Murkowski had been a supporter of the Healy Project (which has been mothballed since 1999) so his veto was a complete surprise to both HEA and to us. The other disbursements were agreed to by all the involved utilities — Copper Valley Electric Association ($4.5 million), Chugach Electric Association ($12.5 million), Matanuska Electric Association ($26.5 million), Seward Electric System ($1 million) and Anchorage Municipal Light and Power ($4 million).

The governor said that he vetoed the project because he had heard that some of the cooperatives were not looking for other energy sources to meet future consumer demand.

Rather, he said they were scheming, waiting for the natural gas dependent companies in Cook Inlet to go out of business and then use that natural gas as “relief” for their future energy needs.

We don’t know the source of the governor’s information on this, nor do we know what cooperatives were involved. But from our perspective, the HEA project was, in fact, proposing another source of energy — from the Healy Clean Coal Project.

To us, a more reasonable and equitable approach by the governor would have been to veto the funds for those cooperatives who purportedly were involved in this “scheme” and not totally wipe out the good projects with a single stroke of his pen.

So, we voted to override his veto — as did Rep. Paul Seaton (District 35) and Sen. Gary Stevens from Kodiak, who also represents House District 35.

Sen. Tom Wagoner

District Q

Rep. Kurt Olson

District 33

Rep. Mike Chenault

District 34

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