Business Briefs

Posted: Thursday, August 10, 2000

Homer Electric to return $1 million to members

Homer Electric Association plans to return $1 million in capital credits to its members.

Homer Electric is a nonprofit cooperative. Members earn capital credits, which represent shares in the utility's equity, in proportion to purchases of electricity. The utility mails members statements each year to inform them of capital credits accumulated during the previous year.

The utility holds some margins -- similar to profits in a for-profit business -- to add services and maintain and upgrade the electrical system. However, it returns excess margins after expenses to members according to an equity management plan.

The Homer Electric board of directors has voted to return certain equity from the years of 1984 and 1999. The coming refund comprises capital credits due from 18.21 percent of 1984 and 14.27 percent of 1999. Homer Electric plans to mail the checks Aug. 18. Over the last 30 years, it has returned more than $7 million to members.

Tesoro feels market swings

Tesoro Petroleum Corp. reported second-quarter earnings of $14.6 million, down from earnings of $32.5 million during the second quarter last year.

"We are pleased with our solid financial performance for the 2000 second quarter when compared to the unusual market conditions in the western United States last year," said Bruce A. Smith, chairman, president and chief executive. "This year, we did not see significant disruptions to the West Coast markets, and margins for refined product on the West Coast returned to more normal historical levels. As a result, operating profit for our refining and marketing segment declined from year-ago results."

Last year, Tesoro second quarter earnings got a boost due to fuel shortages stemming from problems with a Washington pipeline and several competing West Coast refineries.

This year, second-quarter West Coast refining margins were down, in sharp contrast to margins in other U.S. markets, where new product specifications led to supply disruptions.

In addition, second-quarter 2000 operating costs in Tesoro's refining and marketing segment were up due to higher fuel and utility costs, increased state and local taxes due to higher product values and increased amortization of costs due to accelerated maintenance in some parts of Tesoro's Washington and Hawaii refineries.

Tesoro has been trying to sell more of its output in higher-value markets. During the first six months of 2000, sales to branded jobbers were up by 60 percent and sales to unbranded racks were up by 24 percent from the first six months of 1999.

Tesoro christens its Wal-Mart stations

Mirastar is the new brand name for Tesoro Petroleum Corp. retail gas stations on Wal-Mart properties. Tesoro West Coast Co., a Tesoro subsidiary, will lease land from Wal-Mart in certain western states for the Mirastar stations.

Tesoro has more than 60 Mirastar stations at various stages of development. Seven are operating and one is under construction. The move to Wal-Mart properties is part of Tesoro's effort to sell more of its products in higher-value markets.

FNBA declares dividend

First National Bank of Anchorage has declared a dividend of $8 per share, payable Sept. 15 to shareholders of record as of Sept. 1.

TOTE ships draw spill-prevention award

Totem Ocean Trailer Express recently received the States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force Legacy Award 2000 for building two new cargo vessels with state-of-the-art oil spill prevention and marine safety features.

"TOTE's decision to build two new vessels with greater environmental features and responsiveness standards, none of which are required by regulations, is consistent with the spirit of the Legacy 2000 award," said Jean Cameron, oil spill task force executive director.

The new ships have double hulls, sophisticated sewage and ballast water systems, fuel-efficient engines that exceed California air quality standards, redundancy in critical systems such as radar and generators, plus twin engine rooms, rudders and propellers. The prototypes were designed by TOTE employees. The oil spill task force was created in 1989 by the governors of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California and the premier of British Columbia.

Candidates to speak at North Peninsula chamber

Brad Brown, a contender for the Republican nomination for Senate District E, is the speaker at today's meeting of the North Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.

The Aug. 17 speaker is Mike Szymanski, a contender for the Democratic nomination for Senate District E. The Aug. 24 speaker is Barbara Seaman, executive director of the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust. The Aug. 31 speaker will be announced later.

The North Peninsula chamber meets Thursdays at noon at the Lighthouse Inn.

Gas-to-liquids plant is topic

Jim Palmer, vice president of external affairs for BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., speaks at the Aug. 17 Alliance meeting on company plans to build an $86 million plant in Nikiski to test and refine gas-to-liquids technology. The meeting is at noon at Paradisos Restaurant in Kenai.

Orange Blossom Janitorial has new owner

Kathleen Rogerson recently bought Orange Blossom Janitorial & Snowplowing, which provides snow plowing and janitorial services to businesses in the Kenai-Soldotna area. Rogerson is licensed, bonded and insured. She can be reached at 260-1532.

Era announces promotions

Era Aviation has promoted Kip Knudsen to general manager, fixed-base operations and facilities, Steve Hill to manager, scheduling and planning, Brett Muller to Anchorage station manager for the airline division, Mike Le Norman to director, sales and marketing, Lillian Bunch to manager, reservations, and Amber Babcock to manager of marketing.

NBA promotes Linson

National Bank of Alaska has promoted Robin Linson of its Soldotna branch to assistant cashier. Linson started with NBA in 1994 as a financial services representative. She later advanced to bank trainee and was promoted to her current position in January.

GCI plans cable theft crackdown

GCI has given consumers who illegally receive its cable television service until Aug. 31 to quit or sign up for legal service. After that, GCI will conduct system-wide audits, investigate leads and work with law enforcement agencies to prosecute offenders.

"Cable theft is a serious crime that negatively impacts our paying customers and reduces the quality of service for all users," said Riley Snell, GCI cable and entertainment general manager. "GCI is committed to keeping costs down, securing our system and protecting our subscribers."

Based on industry averages, GCI estimates its loss from cable theft at more than $5 million per year. Cable theft increases operating and maintenance costs, and illegal equipment introduces electronic interference into the cable television system. Substandard equipment also creates the risk that radio signals used to transmit cable television will leak into frequencies reserved for aircraft and emergency communications.

GCI said some consumers connect to the cable system with illegal descrambling devices known as "black boxes." Others illegally tap the descrambled signals purchased by neighbors and friends.

Theft of cable service is a crime subject to punishment by up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. Illegal distribution of equipment for profit is a felony punishable by up to five years in jail. Cable companies also may file civil charges against illegal users to collect payment for services.

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