All posts by Melissa Carlin

Utilities Sign Groundbreaking Agreement

December 19, 2019 – After years of effort, all six Railbelt utilities have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to move forward with an organization to work more closely together to manage Alaska’s largest interconnected grid.

The Railbelt Reliability Council (RRC) is the organization that will define and enforce electric reliability standards, coordinate joint planning through an integrated resource planning process and ensure consistent interconnection protocols for utilities, independent power producers and others who would like to use the grid. The RRC will also study if there are more effective ways for the Railbelt electric system to reduce fuel costs for ratepayers.

The RRC meets requirements established in a 2015 letter from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) to the Alaska State Legislature indicating the need for reform on the Railbelt and requesting voluntary solutions from the utilities.

As in similar structures that exist throughout the Lower 48, the RRC will be governed by a mix of utility and non-utility stakeholders. In addition to the six utility seats, the 12-member Board will include six non-utility seats: the Alaska Energy Authority, two independent power producers, a consumer advocacy group and two independent, unaffiliated members. In addition, the RCA and the state agency for Regulatory Affairs and Public Advocacy (RAPA) will each fill an ex-officio, non-voting seat. A 30-day public notice requesting applications from individuals or organizations interested in applying for one of the undesignated, non-utility seats will be released on January 3.

The recently signed MOU lays out a basic structure for the RRC and indicates steps to form an Implementation Committee responsible for developing the foundational documents and setting up the organization. The utilities will file the executed MOU with the RCA by the end of the year. Based on the timeline established in the MOU, it is anticipated the Implementation Committee will be formed by April 2020 with the goal of completing their work by December 2020.

The signatory utilities include Anchorage Municipal Light and Power (ML&P) and Chugach Electric Association (CEA) serving the Anchorage area; Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) in Fairbanks serving the Interior; Homer Electric Association (HEA) serving the majority of the Kenai Peninsula; Matanuska Electric Association (MEA) serving the Mat-Su Valley and Eagle River; and Seward Electric, a municipally-owned utility serving the Seward area.

Utility Perspectives:

Chugach Electric Association (contact: Julie Hasquet (907) 717-9619)
“The signing of this MOU represents a significant amount of work and great progress among the utilities,” said Chugach CEO Lee Thibert. “The goal is to work better together on behalf of ratepayers to improve reliability, enhance cyber security, and have long-term planning within the Railbelt.”

Golden Valley Electric Association (contact: Corinne Bradish (907) 451-5676)
“The Railbelt Utilities have worked together for years to create a reliable electric utility system having filed Railbelt-wide reliability standards in 2018 and new Cyber Security standards in 2019 which become effective January 1, 2020. This new RRC will build on those efforts,” said GVEA CEO Cory Borgeson. “Once again the Railbelt utilities have demonstrated the ability to work together.”

Homer Electric Association (contact: Bruce Shelley (907) 283-2324)
With long term value for all Alaskan Railbelt consumers in mind, General Manager Brad Janorschke commented, “Homer Electric Association looks forward to working symbiotically with all the Railbelt utilities and non-utility stakeholders alike to make this happen.”

Matanuska Electric Association (contact: Julie Estey (907) 355-4447)
“MEA would like to thank the utility and non-utility partners who were part of this collaborative process,” said MEA CEO Tony Izzo. “The agreement represents an opportunity to work together in new ways to ensure our interconnected electric system can meet the evolving needs of the region’s members, businesses and communities.”
Municipal Light & Power (contact: Julie Harris (907) 263-5423)

“This agreement demonstrates the willingness of the utilities to work cooperatively for the benefit of ratepayers throughout the Railbelt,” said ML&P General Manager Anna Henderson. “ML&P’s objective is to enhance security and provide more reliable, cost-effective electric service for businesses and families.”
Seward Electric (contact: John Foutz (907) 224-4073)

“I am happy to see all the hard work get us to this historic moment and I am excited to continue working for a better and more efficient Alaska,” said John Foutz, General Manager of Seward Electric.
Alaska Energy Authority (contact: Brandy M. Dixon (907) 771-3078)

“The Alaska Energy Authority owns significant generation and transmission assets on the Railbelt and is pleased with this progress. We are hopeful this first step leads to maximum efficiencies and positive benefits for ratepayers. Our mission is to reduce the cost of energy in Alaska, and we believe this MOU supports that mission, and will help keep efforts moving forward,” said AEA Executive Director Curtis W. Thayer.

Winter Storm & Outage Update

December 10, 2019 – Homer Electric Association, Inc. (HEA) line crews, dispatchers, HEA staff, and several contract workers continued to work around the clock to battle the wind related outages that hit the service territory on Monday, December 9. These efforts are on the heels of restoration efforts after a wind storm resulted in outages across Kachemak Bay and a relentless snow storm wreaked havoc and created extended outages on the Kenai Peninsula beginning December 1, 2019.

The forecasted winds caused multiple outages beginning around 5:30 am on December 9 affecting a total of approximately 3,912 members (*actual number fluctuated as the weather changed) in the general locations of:
• South Kasilof area – 1,207 members
• Homer area – 154 members on East End Rd.
• K-Beach area – 172 members on Even Lane
• Soldotna areas of Airport Circle, Knight Dr., Mackey Lake, Moser St., Sports Lake Rd., Whisper Lake Rd. (1,433 members)
• Sterling areas of Panoramic St., Robinson Loop, Scout Lake Rd. (459 members)

There were numerous reports of downed power lines and downed trees caused by the wind which added in the difficulty and delay to restore power to these areas. However, the crews continued to make good progress throughout the day. By 9:20 pm on Monday, the winds appeared to have died down and fewer outage reports were being called into HEA’s operations/dispatch center. At approximately 2:00 am on December 10, 2019, all members
affected by this outage had their power restored. But please keep in mind, as the snow melts off the power lines, and trees are weakened by the high winds, more outages may be caused so HEA will still be on hand for restoration efforts.

“HEA would like to thank its members for their patience and support during these back-to-back snow and wind storms over the past couple weeks. Furthermore, HEA thanks its dedicated line
crews, employees inside and outside of the offices, as well as the several contract crews that have assisted in the restoration efforts,” Bruce Shelley, director of member relations, said.

Visit and “Like” HEA’s Facebook page for real time outage notifications. The HEA Facebook page is the fastest way to get outage updates. Please DO NOT report your outage on Facebook –
use the Outage Hotline by calling 1-888-8OUTAGE (1-888-868-8243) as this phone number is directly monitored by HEA’s Operations Department. If you have general questions, contact
HEA’s Member Services Department at 1-800-478-8551.

HEA Making Headway in Restoring Power to Peninsula

December 5, 2019 – Homer Electric Association, Inc. (HEA) continues to work around the clock to restore the numerous power outages across the upper Kenai Peninsula that began on Sunday evening December 1, 2019 when heavy, wet snow blanketed HEA’s northern service area.  The heavy snow load wreaked havoc on the power lines, especially in the Nikiski area.

As of the morning of Thursday, December 5, HEA has reports of 180 members still without power, down from 3,100 without power on December 3. It has been a collaborative effort with the entire HEA line crew working these outages, alongside four contract crews, and Carlos Tree Service working on tree mitigation in the Nikiski area.

HEA will be flying close to the power lines in Nikiski via helicopter today to assess the damage.

If you have been without power for a substantial time, please take it upon yourself to seek safety and comfort for your family. Whether that means purchasing a generator or staying at a family or friend’s residence, please prepare your family with the basic needs and keep emergency supplies during winter storms.

The forecast for the next few days calls for likely snow showers through the weekend and rain at the top of next week. With that, there is still a probability of outages being caused by snow shedding off the power lines and trees. HEA crews continue to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. Your patience and understanding are appreciated in this huge effort.

Visit and “Like” HEA’s Facebook page for real time outage notifications. The HEA Facebook page is the fastest way to get outage updates. Please DO NOT report your outage on Facebook – use the Outage Hotline by calling 1-888-8OUTAGE (1-888-868-8243) as this phone number is directly monitored by HEA’s Operations Department. If you have general questions, contact HEA’s Member Services Department at 1-800-478-8551.

South Bay Outage

December 4, 2019 – Homer Electric Association, Inc. (HEA) experienced an outage last Wednesday afternoon, November 27, 2019 at approximately 12:25 PM that affected over 600 members across Kachemak Bay. Winds reaching speeds of over 60 miles an hour brought numerous large trees down on the power lines putting these members in the dark for much of the Thanksgiving holiday. HEA crews attempted to reach Seldovia by boat on Wednesday but turned around due to the rough seas.

HEA crews were able to fly to Seldovia on Thursday morning, November 28, to begin restoration efforts. By the end of the day, crews restored power to approximately 200 members via local generation.

By November 29, a nine-person line crew, forming three teams, returned to Seldovia, to work in different areas across the bay. The crews and generation personnel faced a handful of challenges from the tedious work of repairing the many downed and broken poles to the standby generator tripping offline. Generation staff were able to reset the generators and make some headway in restoration efforts.

Seldovia was put back on shore power at 12:35 pm on November 30 with several taps still without power in Halibut Cove and Peterson Bay. By 3:05 pm, crews finished repairs in Halibut Cove and restored most of their power. By 9:30 pm, crews restored power to all of Halibut Cove and to most of Seldovia.

By December 1, 12:05 pm, a remaining 15 members were out of power. The three teams of nine line crew continued to clear access, replace poles, set transformers throughout the day and into the evening hours.

December 2 brought heavy, wet snow load to the central Kenai Peninsula and created widespread outages across HEA’s service territory. All HEA line crews were dispatched to work on restoration efforts to the 3,100 members without power between Nikiski to Sterling. HEA crews and staff are working around the clock to restore power to all members.  Furthermore, HEA has brought in additional contract crews to help HEA line crews battle this outage.

As of December 3, repairs across the bay and restoration to the remaining three members in Seldovia are put on hold until the central Peninsula outages have tapered off. These members have been contacted and all three are out of state at this time.

Thank you for your patience during this time. Remember to stay away from downed power lines, which may still be live, and call HEA at 888-868-8243 or 911 to report it immediately.

Visit and “Like” HEA’s Facebook page for real time outage notifications. The HEA Facebook page is the fastest way to get outage updates. Please DO NOT report your outage on Facebook – use the Outage Hotline by calling 1-888-8OUTAGE (1-888-868-8243) as this phone number is directly monitored by HEA’s Operations Department. If you have general questions, contact HEA’s Member Services Department at 1-800-478-8551.

Heavy Snow Load Results in Multiple Outages

December 3, 2019 – Homer Electric Association, Inc. (HEA) is experiencing numerous power outages across the upper Kenai Peninsula, from Kasilof to Sterling. The outages began on Sunday evening December 1, 2019 when heavy, wet snow blanketed HEA’s northern service area.

Most of these outages are caused when heavy snow load weighs down the power lines and trees load up with snow and make contact with the power lines This is exactly the reason why HEA makes efforts to be proactive to clear the electrical easements as part of its maintenance program.

As of this morning, December 3, there have been approximately 3,100 members without power and over 100 cases being worked by HEA’s Operations Dispatch Center and our line crews. Some areas have been impacted for over 24 hours so far. HEA crews and staff are working around the clock to restore power to all members. Furthermore, HEA has brought in additional contract crews, as well as the entire HEA Homer line crew, to help our Kenai line crews battle this outage.

If you have been without power for a substantial time, please take it upon yourself to seek safety and comfort for your family. Whether that means purchasing a generator or staying at a family or friend’s residence, please prepare your family with the basic needs and keep emergency supplies during winter storms.

The forecast calls for decreased snowfall. However, there is still a high probability of outages being caused by snow shedding off the power lines and trees. HEA crews continue to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. Your patience and understanding are appreciated in this huge effort.

Visit and “Like” HEA’s Facebook page for real time outage notifications. The HEA Facebook page is the fastest way to get outage updates. Please DO NOT report your outage on Facebook – use the Outage Hotline by calling 1-888-8OUTAGE (1-888-868-8243) as this phone number is directly monitored by HEA’s Operations Department. If you have general questions, contact HEA’s Member Services Department at 1-800-478-8551.

Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) Coming to HEA

December 3, 2019 – Homer Electric Association, Inc. announces a strategic move to increase grid stability, electric power reliability and system efficiency for its members by the addition of a BESS (Battery Energy Storage System).

The BESS will be capable of storing 93 MWh (Megawatt hours) of electrical power that can be delivered to the grid at a rate of 46.5 MWs per hour. The BESS will allow HEA to meet its reliability requirements without having to burn additional fuel. This will result in greater system efficiencies, lower greenhouse gas production, and reduced power outages.

The BESS also provides a great side benefit of opening the door to renewable intermittent energy projects that would have otherwise stretched current thermal generation assets. The BESS project is expected to be in service in the Fall of 2021.

The proposed site for the installation of the BESS is at the Soldotna Generation Plant located at the corner of the Sterling Highway and Boundary Road. HEA signed an agreement with Tesla for the purchase of the batteries and currently cost information is not available for public release. POWER Engineers, Inc. was awarded the site engineering contract. More details to evolve as we move forward to making this a reality on the Kenai peninsula.

Kasilof Area Outage on 11/13

November 14, 2019 – Homer Electric Association, Inc. (HEA) crews responded to a power outage affecting 1,204 members in the Kasilof area on November 13, 2019. The outage started at 3:48 PM and by 4:48 PM power had been restored to all but 196 members. The cause of the outage was a faulty insulator, which in turn, burnt the cross arm section that was replaced and power was restored to the remaining 196 members at 10:53 PM.

Thank you for your patience during this time. Remember to stay away from downed power lines, which may still be energized, and call HEA at 888-868-8243 or 911 to report it immediately.

Multiple Outages Due to Wind, Trees

October 1, 2019 – Homer Electric Association, Inc. (HEA) experienced numerous power outages starting just after midnight last night due to extremely high winds that hit the Kenai Peninsula. Most outages were due to the gusting winds blowing trees over on to the power lines. The Homer and Nikiski areas sustained most of the outages during this period.

The following is a list of the larger outages during this event:
• 12:22 AM – 128 members were affected by an outage from Halbouty Road north towards Captain Cook State Park in Nikiski. Power was restored at 8:10 AM. Cause of the outage was a tree had torn down several spans of power line.
• 12:57 AM – 432 members were affected by an outage in the West Homer area.. Power was restored at 3:25 AM. Cause of the outage was a tree on the power line.
• 1:04 AM – 729 members were affected by an outage in the Fairview area of Homer. Power was restored at 4:00 AM. Cause of the outage was a tree on the power line.
• 2:35 AM – 43 members were affected by an outage on Ocean Drive Loop in Homer. Power was restored at 5:28 AM. Cause of the outage was a tree on the power line.
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• 5:49 AM – 176 members were affected by an outage in the Halbouty Road area of Nikiski. Power was restored at 10:27 AM. Cause of the outage was a tree on the power line.
• 6:04 AM – 60 members were affected by an outage on Miller Loop Road in Nikiski. Power was restored at 8:25 AM. Cause of the outage was a tree on the power line.
• 1:28 PM – 128 members were affected in the Nikiski area when HEA opened the line to make final repairs to a line damaged earlier in the morning. Power was restored at 2:50 PM.

Thank you for your patience during this time. Remember to stay away from downed power lines, which may still be live, and call HEA at 888-868-8243 or 911 to report it immediately.

HEA Begins Mitigation of Risk of Transmission Lines Damaged During Swan Lake Fire on the Kenai Peninsula

September 25, 2019 – Homer Electric Association (HEA), in coordination with the current fire team managing the Swan Lake fire, the Alaska Department of Transportation and the Alaska State Troopers, are beginning to prepare to drop high voltage transmission lines that cross the Sterling Highway near Milepost 62.5 and 58.0. The operation is being done to mitigate the threat of these electric lines sagging or falling across the highway as a result of fire damage.

HEA has begun an initial assessment of the transmission lines damaged by this summer’s Swan Lake fire. The line that is being dropped is a 69 kV line that has been out of service for many years. It has sustained damage to poles and cross-arms and has several trees that have fallen on the line. Once these lines are removed, we do not expect the remaining lines to present a threat of falling on the highway. HEA will work with the Alaska Department of Transportation and the Alaska State Troopers to mitigate traffic delays while the work in being conducted Thursday, September 26, 2019 between 10:00 am and 3:00 p.m.

Plans are being developed, in conjunction with Kenai Wildlife Refuge personnel, to begin further assessment of fire related damage to the transmission lines along the north and south side of the Sterling Highway where the fire burned. Safety of personnel entering this area is of the utmost importance to HEA and refuge staff. We are keenly aware of the importance of this line and we will undertake a thorough assessment of the condition.

Over the course of the summer, HEA personnel have worked with several interagency incident management teams as they worked to mitigate impacts of the fire. As the suppression efforts transition to rehabilitation of the fires impact, HEA will continue to work with appropriate agencies to make sure any work in the area does not present a risk to the public or repair personnel nor add to damage to fire burned landscape.

HEA Anticipates Rate Decrease for 4th Quarter 2019

September 23, 2019 – Homer Electric Association (HEA) members will likely see a rate decrease effective October 1, 2019.

HEA has submitted a filing with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) that requests a decrease in the Cost of Power Adjustment (COPA) from $0.07157 per kilowatt-hour to $0.06195 kilowatt-hour.

COPA reflects the cost of the fuel purchased by HEA to generate electricity and purchased power. It is adjusted on a quarterly basis.

If approved, the new rate will mean an approximate decrease of $5.29 per month for the average HEA residential member using 550-kilowatt hours a month. The main driver of the decrease is the refund from HEA’s gas supplier Furie for past purchases going back to April 2018.

Pending approval from the RCA, the rate change will be effective October 1, 2019.