Utilities co-op finally a Railbelt reality 

By Patti Epler of Alaska Dispatch: Five Alaska utilities are finally doing themselves what the Legislature and at least one former governor couldn’t get them to do — join together in a cooperative entity that could substantially reduce costs and provide seamless power generation for hundreds of thousands of customers in the Railbelt.

The Alaska Railbelt Cooperative Transmission and Energy Company or ARCTEC is the new version of GRETC, the Greater Railbelt Energy and Transmission Corp. that died in the Legislature earlier this year.

ARCTEC is moving forward without Anchorage Municipal Light and Power, but the Railbelt’s five other utilities have signed on. They include Chugach Electric Association, Matanuska Electric Association, Homer Electric Association, Golden Valley Electric Association in Fairbanks and the Seward municipal electric department. Individual utilities are naming representatives to the ARCTEC board which is slated to hold its first meeting Jan. 7.

Joe Griffith, general manager of the Matanuska Electric Association, calls ARCTEC “GRETC lite” but says the utilities have long had a need to join together to achieve efficiencies and buying power, for instance when it comes to negotiating with natural gas suppliers for electric generation.

Griffith envisions a day, still years off, when Railbelt utilities would be combined into a single power company, and customers would receive service from a single regional provider. Read more

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