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2022 MEA Elections

What is the Matanuska Electric Association (MEA)

The Matanuska Electric Association was established in 1941 making it the first electric association in Alaska. Today, more than 53500 members make up the ownership of MEA which serves the communities of Eagle River, Chugiak, Birchwood, and Eklutna in addition to the Mat-Su Borough. If you pay electricity bills to MEA, you are one of these member-owners! MEA is governed by bylaws and articles of incorporation that are voted on and approved by the member-owners of MEA. This role comes with rights and responsibilities such as voicing your opinion at monthly MEA Board meetings, getting monthly updates from MEA, and most importantly, voting for key by-law changes and members of the board of directors.

 

The MEA board of directors work closely with the CEO to provide reliable and affordable electricity and guide the cooperative in the future. The board of directors is made up of four district based representatives and three directors at-large who are elected at the spring annual members meeting and serve 4 year terms. MEA’s service area covers approximately 4,500 miles of power lines in Southcentral Alaska.

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What MEA means to the SRC Community

It is important to elect MEA board members who support expanding collaboration along the railbelt, speaking out against wasteful projects such as the Susitna-Watana Dam, and increasing engagement from member-owners like you! MEA plays a large role in the Railbelt Reliability Council (RRC) which is an effort between electric associations from Fairbanks to Homer to share power and innovation ideas.

 

 

 

Energy innovation is great but projects such as the Susitna-Watana Dam have shown us that we need responsible board members advocating for responsible renewables on the MEA board and the RRC. That is why the Susitna River Coalition has launched a program to engage member-owners of MEA across the 4,500 miles of powerline to get out and vote for good candidates in the MEA board elections every spring

 

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Important Dates:

Early April

  • Ballots and Election information sent to members Mail Boxes

Tuesday, April 26th @ 6PM

  •   MEA Virtual Annual Membership Meeting:Members can attend the meeting in person at the Curtis D. Menard Center in Wasilla or participate via  Zoom. See the MEA webpage for more information

At-Large Seat 2022 Candidates
All Ratepayers can vote for the At-Large Seat
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Christian Hartley

Organizational affiliation, if any:

I have no affiliation with Susitna River Coalition, nor do any immediate family members. I am a member of many local community organizations.

What is your experience with utilities in Alaska?

As a responder, we often have to mitigate the risks and hazards of utilities at emergency scenes. 

What do you want the Railbelt energy system to look like 10 years from now?

The electrical systems serving Alaska need to be working together to create a safe, effective, redundant electrical grid that can sustain natural disasters without failing and permit for rapid repair. The system needs to be the same statewide so that in times of crisis or disaster any team of linemen from any utility can come into the service area and assist with repairs seamlessly, in the same way that fire departments provide mutual aid on large emergencies.

What should be the biggest priorities for Alaska energy consumers?

Moving to renewable energy that does not negatively add to climate change, accepting that some renewable energies are harmful to the environment, and creating a redundant power supply model that does not create a hazard of wildfires and extended outages by its design.

What are your thoughts on the development of the Susitna- Watana dam? Is this a project you support?

I need more information. Growing up in Sunshine I am very familiar with the impact of Talkeetna area rivers and how much a dam can impact not just the human inhabitants but also the flora and fauna. I do not have an informed enough knowledge based on the Susitna- Watana dam to provide a firm commitment, but I know that there are many alternatives to it. Dams create unnatural restriction to water flow, fish, and animals that live off of the fish coming upriver. We do need to identify actionable alternatives to coal and natural gas power plants, however.

What are the most impactful ways to invest federal funding (such as from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) to improve the Railbelt?

Move power lines underground to prevent wildfires and power outages during windstorms, remove power poles entirely from our roadsides, unify the utilities with a single training and procedural model, and expanding solar, wind, and small-scale power generation for remote locations that lack access to the core area power grid.

 

Is there anything else you would like to share with MEA member-owners?

I have lived in Alaska and especially the Mat-Su for most of my life, and grew up in Sunshine. I am keenly attuned to the relationship between humans and nature, and the impact that a single person or organization can do to change the world. I want be a voice on the board to encourage creating a power grid that is safer and more risk- averse by moving lines away from falling trees. I want to consider all viewpoints and refuse to pick “the lesser of evils,” but instead engage as many people as we have to and identify an actual solution to the problem. Quit kicking the can down the street and picking which foot to kick it with – find a tool to pick the can up and clean up the street!

Organizational affiliation, if any:

Mat-Su resident and business owner

 

 What is your experience with utilities in Alaska? I have enjoyed using power from MEA for over the past two decades.

 

 What do you want the Railbelt energy system to look like 10 years from now?

Energy use and production will be changing as new technologies appear and evolve. I believe there will be an important and concerted effort to use and promote renewable resources in place of fossil fuels. The biggest change will be the transportation sector transitioning to electric. It is important that we are prepared for these changes. We must continue providing affordable, reliable, safe, and accessible energy as the this evolution happens.

 

 What should be the biggest priorities for Alaska energy consumers?

MEA customers should be concerned that MEA maintains a good working relationship with the other Railbelt utilities for the most efficient and cost-effective production of energy. The availability of natural gas for the long term from Cook inlet should also be of concern to MEA members.

 

What are your thoughts on the development of the Susitna-Watana dam? Is this a project you support?

I do not support it. This is a project that would cost billions of dollars and I don't believe it is viable.

 

 What are the most impactful ways to invest federal funding (such as from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) to improve the Railbelt?

A second transmission line to Kenai would increase our ability to use renewables and strengthen our fragile power distribution system.

 

 Is there anything else you would like to share with MEA member-owners?

I am a lifelong Alaskan, a farmer and business owner. I've built my farm with sustainability in mind with everything I do. This mindset carries through into all aspects of my life. I've raised my family here in the valley and I want this wonderful place to be somewhere that they will want to come back to and build their lives. Affordable, reliable, safe and accessible power plays a big role in that happening. And that is why I am running.

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Arthur Keyes

Eagle River Seat Candidates
Only Eagle River Ratepayers can vote for the Eagle River Seat
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Mark Hamm

(Incumbent)

Organizational affiliation, if any:

n/a

 

 What is your experience with utilities in Alaska?

 Current member on MEA’s board, representing Eagle River.

What do you want the Railbelt energy system to

look like 10 years from now?

In 10 years, I envision that the Railbelt system will be more interconnected between the various utilities, with additional power-pool agreements between the larger utilities to ensure that each power plant is running most efficiently.  Additionally, I envision that we will have more and more Independent Power Producers (IPPs) connecting into the Railbelt and selling renewable power.  During the last several years, MEA has added power to our portfolio from four IPPs (two hydro and two large scale solar projects).  Additionally, I envision the use of large-scale batteries in use by the utilities to help buffer the surges of some renewable sources. 

As electric vehicles (EV) become more common, I anticipate that there will be an implementation of Time of Use billing for residential customers to encourage the use of electricity during off hours.  This will allow plants to be more efficient and to ensure that additional generation facilities are not needed.  (Example: incentivize the charging of electric cars between 2-5AM and not when people get home from work)

What should be the biggest priorities for Alaska energy consumers?

The biggest priority for Alaska energy consumers should be the cost and reliability of our services.  Costs are kept low through continuous improvement and though working efficiently with our neighboring utilities. 

 

What are your thoughts on the development of the Susitna-Watana dam? Is this a project you support?

 I do not support the development of the Susitna-Watana dam as it has been proposed. The financial cost is extraordinary, as is the cost to the environment. The risks for such a project are significant.  There are much better alternatives that are not as risky or costly to the environment.

 

What are the most impactful ways to invest federal funding (such as from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) to improve the Railbelt?

Federal funds should be used to help cover the costs entirely of projects that would upgrade the underlying infrastructure to allow additional renewable resources to be added to the Railbelt.  For example, the Railbelt needs to have double circuited transmission lines from Homer to Fairbanks.  This will cost a significant amount and will be necessary to incentivize additional renewable resources onto the grid.  Additionally, the Federal funds should can be used to add capacity at the Bradly Lake Hydro plant and other Hydro plants that do not impact salmon streams.  

 

Is there anything else you would like to share with MEA member-owners?

 It has been an honor to serve the Eagle River / Chugiak area for the past year.  During my first year as a board member there have been no base rate increases for our members, while at the same time we have made progress on our carbon reduction plan and increased the use of renewables. We have signed an interconnection agreement with a large solar farm to be constructed near Big Lake and have integrated the Ram Valley hydro plant in upper Eagle River. I hope to continue to serve the community through reelection in 2022 and to continue advocating for reliable, safe, and cost effective power.

Organizational affiliation, if any:

na

 

What is your experience with utilities in Alaska?

 3/2013 – 2/2022 Chugach Electric Association – Southcentral Power Plant Maintenance Manager

11/2004 – 3/2013 Golden Valley Electric Association – Project Engineer

 

What do you want the Railbelt energy system to look like 10 years from now?

Ten years from today, we need to be less dependent on natural gas for power generation. This can be achieved through efficiency of existing assets, increased renewable power generation, integrating new technologies, and conservation.

 

What should be the biggest priorities for Alaska energy consumers?

Alaska energy consumers need reliable, affordable power, not just for today but for the future. Energy consumers need the electric utility to be planning new projects, infrastructure upgrades, fuel contracts, and maintenance activities 5-10 years in the future. Unified economic dispatch for the Railbelt’s power generation is the highest priority for consumers in the near term.

 

What are your thoughts on the development of the Susitna- Watana dam? Is this a project you support?

 I remember attending Alaska Energy Authority public meetings in 2012 when the state was advancing the licensing and development of the Susitna-Watana project. My concerns for this mega-project include loss of habitat and recreational area, too much power generation at one remote location, cost of construction and financing, and capital debt of existing utilities. Today, the capital debt for each utility is even higher than in 2012. I don’t support AEA’s proposed Susitna-Watana Dam project.

 

What are the most impactful ways to invest federal funding (such as from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) to improve the Railbelt?

I’d like to see federal funding for developing and constructing renewable projects that would fit into the Railbelt’s economic dispatch plan. Another investment would be upgrading transmission lines from Bradley Lake and Willow-Healy intertie segments.

 

 Is there anything else you would like to share with MEA member-owners?

Remember our electric cooperative is a not-for-profit entity. Members are only charged for the cost of services provided, not excess profits returned to investors. This difference allows utility business decisions to be based on long term benefits for the members not investors. Unlike a for-profit electric provider, members can participate in cooperative business through meetings, voting, transmission routing design reviews, and net metering. Get involved, be heard!

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Paul Park

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Robert (Bob) Seitz

Organizational affiliation, if any:

 N/A

 

What is your experience with utilities in Alaska?

Besides being a customer of HEA, GVEA, ML&P, CEA and MEA since abut 1971 I have provided engineering service for Service Connections for Industrial, Commercial and Residential connections over the past 30 years.  For the more recent 10 years I have provided engineering service for Grid Tie connection of Renewable resources (wind and Solar) to MEA, CEA, ML&P, GVEA and HEA. 

What do you want the Railbelt energy system to look like 10 years from now?

Increased energy production with lower electrical rates to encourage industrial and commercial growth.  The increased energy production should be provided from various types of Renewable Energy resources which have been designed and added to the system to ensure low energy rates.

What should be the biggest priorities for Alaska energy consumers?

Low rates and reliable and resilient service.

 

What are your thoughts on the development of the Susitna-Watana dam? Is this a project you support?

 I was involved with some of the data collection for the dam site in 1979 which is more than 40 years ago.  If we don’t have a dam after that length of time I don’t thing there is much chance for it to be built.  I would rather see some Pump Hydro projects which would use some or all of the renewables on the Railbelt power system used to pump the water to provide stored energy.

 

What are the most impactful ways to invest federal funding (such as from the Infrastructure 

Investment and Jobs Act) to improve the Railbelt?

Any funds from any source, federal, state or private that is applied to infrastructure of the utility should be based on the results of planning and good engineering to determine the type of infrastructure that would be necessary to allow proper growth of renewable onto the system while maintaining low electrical rates.  The infrastructure could be Pumped hydro dams.  Generation stations placed along the transmission line which would be used as focal points for Micro-grids that can provide sustained power to specific locations during times of disaster.

 

Is there anything else you would like to share with MEA member-owners?

The growth and modification of the system must be built based on a plan with a primary goal of maintaining low, competitive energy rates.

Susitna River Coalition Candidate Questionnaire not yet recieved. 

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Lee Cruise