REAP continues its work to establish an independent “system operator” that would bring together all six utilities in the Railbelt (Chugach Electric Association, Anchorage Municipal Light and Power, the City of Seward, Homer Electric Association, Matanuska Electric Association and Golden Valley Electric Association) into a new organization to consider electric issues on a regional basis. One of REAP’s primary goals is to create a platform for regional energy planning that would address issues related to access to the grid, and the cost of transmitting and integrating renewable power. The system operator would also create a region-wide “load balancing area” into which electrons from renewable energy projects could flow more easily than in the current system where the supply and demand of electricity is “balanced” by each utility in their own respective service area. Though three of the utilities are currently making excellent progress toward establishing a “tight power pool” that will create one large balancing area for the Anchorage-Valley region, REAP is committed to making sure that efforts do not end there.
Over the last two months, REAP Executive Director Chris Rose has met with Railbelt utility general managers, board members and staff, and testify in front of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) on the subject. REAP is requesting that an outside facilitator be hired to lead the formation of the system operator to create a forum where open, transparent and collaborative conversations can take place among all six utilities, renewable energy stakeholders and independent developers that wish to build renewable energy projects and sell that power back into the grid. Four of the six utilities are now in the joint process of issuing a request for proposals to engage such a facilitator. REAP is hopeful that that process can make meaningful progress before the next regular legislative session begins in January.