Assembly approves $75K to intervene in AEL&P sale

Vote passes unanimously to ‘be at the table’ with Hydro One, Avista

The City and Borough of Juneau will have a say in Canadian-owned Hydro One Limited’s attempt to acquire Avista Corp., which owns Alaska Electric Light & Power (AEL&P).

 

All of this comes after the CBJ Committee of the Whole voted unanimously to approve the appropriation of $75,000 as means to fund costs, through the general fund account, to act as an “intervener” during a Special Assembly meeting Monday. As an “intervener,” CBJ (through a lawyer) will have a voice in the the matter before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) on the sale between Hydro One and Avista One.

Assembly member Rob Edwardson pointed out why he is in favor of appropriation of the funds.

“I am in favor in hiring an expert to ask the questions we may not,” Edwardson said.

Assembly member Maria Gladziszewski voiced her concern on what the Assembly will actually be able to do.

“We may not achieve everything everyone would like us to do,” Gladziszewski said.

Assembly member Beth Weldon pointed out the sale may not be stopped, and that the appropriation is really to help decide whether Hydro One “is fit” to purchase Avista.

Assembly member Mary Becker believed the only way for any of their questions they want to get answered, is to intervene.

“We need to be at the table,” Becker said. “We need to be there and that is why my vote is ‘yes.’”

[City looks at being ‘intervener’ in purchase of AEL&P]

This issue has been a point of contention in the community because of concerns of rates and possibly losing control of the Snettisham Hydroelectric Project. That issue has seen a change in course after RCA stated it would not take questions about it in special public meeting and AEL&P agreed to not purchase Snettisham unless it benefits its ratepayers. Snettisham is owned by Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) but is managed by AEL&P. Bonds on the hydroelectric project are expected to be paid off around 2034. Once bonds are paid off AEL&P can buy the facility at a relatively low cost.

The community will be able to meet with representatives from AEL&P, Avista and Hydro One on Tuesday. The panel will include Connie Hulbert, President and General Manager of AEL&P; Dennis Vermillion, President of Avista; Ferio Pugliese, Vice President of Hydro One; and James Scarlett, Vice President of Hydro One. They will take questions at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Miller Room of Centennial Hall.

The RCA will host a public conference immediately following that (scheduled for 7 p.m. in Centennial Hall Ballroom 3). Avista and Hydro One representatives will respond to comments during this session.

Assembly looks into Centennial Hall agreement between CBJ and JAHC

Centennial Hall’s standing as a full-time city managed property may be in flux after the Assembly heard a management agreement between CBJ and Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Monday.

The Assembly agreed to move the agenda item to the Public Works and Facilities committee.

In a letter from City Manager Rorie Watt and presented by Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove certain goals were outlined including the facility be run at a “cost neutral or cost savings basis” and the facility “remain available to the community for emergency management purposes on the same basis as it is currently available and to the Governor and Legislature as needed to be responsive to our role as Alaska’s Capital City.”

The agreement would allow the CBJ to have oversight of operational plans, budget, the facility and governance. The JAHC will handle all day-to-day operations.

Assembly members agreed that more information and community response needed to be taken into consideration before a final vote could be done.

“I don’t know if I’m ready to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down,” Assembly member Loren Jones said. “I would like to in some way get public input.”

“There are too many questions about it,” Becker said.

Assembly chair Jerry Nankervis said he would like to see the proposal go to a committee and work through the deal that way before having to give a final decision.

COW hears request regarding opioid epidemic prevention

During the Committee on the Whole regularly scheduled work session, the Assembly also listened to a request from Partnerships for Success (PFS) about having CBJ as a liaison to Juneau Opioid Work Group and have visible engagement with coalition efforts and prevention efforts as a way to work on the opioid epidemic.

Riley Neff Warner, Partnerships for Success coordinator, outlined the steps PFS uses in areas to address opioid problems and what is done in attempt to alleviate the problem. Warner said the prevention program focuses on people between the ages of 12 to 25 and focuses on prescription drugs and heroin.

The Assembly agreed they would not be able to act on the matter Monday, but Nankervis suggested Warner inform the Assembly when Juneau Opioid Work Group has a meeting scheduled.

Lands and Resource Committee narrows down applicants for property

The Lands and Resource Committee picked three out of five applicants to take over the land of the former Juneau Youth Services building during its regular meeting Monday.

After hearing public comment about the facilities, the committee decided to recommend Alaska Legacy Partner, an assisted living facility for seniors; Polaris House, a mental health care service; and Gehring Nursery School, for preschool childcare, to the Assembly.

“I think this gives the Assembly a good starting point in their decision,” committee member Edwardson said.

Several members from Polaris House stated their case for mental health facility as a place that helped them transition from homeless to finding home, being helped through medical ordeals and finding jobs.

Executive Director of Polaris Bruce Van Dusen wanted to point out to the committee that as of current, “none of the active (Polaris) members are homeless.”

Residents of the area who live close to the former JYS services also voiced their opinions.

“This is very personal,” resident David Bedford said. “We want a place that has supervision. That is why I am recommending either Alaska Legacy and Gehring (Nursery School).” Bedford’s thoughts were echoed by two other residents and he also voiced concerns over heavy traffic flow if a facility that lands a spot has a lot of in-and-out transportation.

Nankervis pointed why it chose the Gehring Nursery School, Alaska Legacy and Polaris.

“Daycare has gone down in town,” Nankervis said. “This (Gehring Nursery School) is consistent to what we are trying to. I would not have considered Alaska Legacy until today when they pointed out they would be in for a nonprofit. Polaris already has a facility. I think the other two (Aunt Margaret’s House, a halfway house and seasonal housing agency, and Prama Home, Inc.) had some work to do on their proposal.”

The city-owned building, located at 9290 Hurlock Ave., near Pipeline Skate Park at the corner of Mendenhall Loop Road and Hurlock Avenue, has been vacated since JYS left at the end of 2017.

 


 

• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at gphilson@juneauempire.com or call at 523-2265. Follow him on twitter @GTPhilson

 


 

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