Alaska Gets Good News This Week on Electrical Utility Integration & Safety

Alaska Gets Good News This Week on Electrical Utility Integration & Safety

May 15, 2020

Alaska residents from Fairbanks to Homer should see rate savings, and workers at the six electrical utilities should have job security under state legislation signed into law this week.

Per the Anchorage Daily News article recapping the signing, the actions will lead to:

“Fortifying the authorities of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and directing the six Railbelt electric utilities to establish a new organization to plan for and manage deeply integrated utility operations.

At its core, SB 123 mandates the Railbelt electric utilities work with other stakeholder-driven organizations to form an electric reliability organization, or ERO, that would oversee implementation of system-wide reliability standards and coordinate long-term planning amongst the utilities. It also gives the RCA explicit authority to rule on the necessity of large infrastructure projects, such as generation plants, that utilities may pursue.

The primary end goal for many stakeholders is to achieve ‘economic dispatch’ across the entire Railbelt — from Homer to Fairbanks — or consistently maximizing use of the most efficient power generation through near-constant power sales between the utilities.”

In addition to the state bill, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and James Risch (R-ID) introduced key legislation designed to protect the US’ electric grid.  Their “Energy Infrastructure Protection Act.”  Per the press release on the legislation:

“The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) currently protect information received from utilities. The Energy Infrastructure Protection Act enhances those protections through provisions that:

  • Direct DOE and FERC to improve methods to protect critical energy information;
  • Grant explicit authority to DOE and FERC to help energy companies improve security;
  • Allow federal, state, and local authorities to request that their own critical energy information be protected under special designation by DOE or FERC.”

Both bills will ultimately enhance and protect workers’ jobs, while keeping their jobsites safer.  We applaud the actions of the Alaska State Legislature, Governor Dunleavy, and Senators Murkowski and Risch.  America’s energy grid is our nation’s most critical piece of infrastructure; without reliable power, everything from hospitals to transportation to retail to resource development gets put at risk.  A widespread failure – or, even worse, an act of terrorism – to the grid could lead to problems that would make current situations seem miniscule by comparison.