TBPA work nears conclusion
Tuesday’s joint work session with the Wrangell and Petersburg assembly members leads us to believe the work of the Thomas Bay Power Authority is no longer needed. It’s time to disband the organization and turn their responsibilities over to the Southeast Alaska Power Agency, which owns the Tyee facilities.
The Thomas Bay Power Authority deserves praise for what it has accomplished since it formed in 1974 and began its search for a viable hydroelectric operation for the two towns. The Tyee project was built by the State of Alaska and was later purchased from the State in 2002. It became a part of the Four Dam Pool Agency and later was purchased by SEAPA after the Four Dam Pool was dissolved.
While there are certainly details to be ironed out, we agree with the thumbnail proposal offered by SEAPA CEO Trey Acteson in his memo to the TBPA president dated August 19.
Most important for Wrangell is that the jobs held by Wrangell based workers of the TBPA would remain. SEAPA even suggests they could pay the PERS expenses incurred by four of the TBPA employees until they were retired or transitioned to the IBEW pension plan.
Community oversight of both the Tyee operation and its management would certainly continue by virtue of its SEAPA board members from each community that purchases power from the organization.
More important than the ongoing oversight of the SEAPA’s operations, is the crucial power sales agreement, which gives both Wrangell and Petersburg priority use of all power generated from the Tyee Lake plant. Few places in Alaska enjoy the 6.9-cents power rate provided to the utilities in both Wrangell and Petersburg.
We hope Petersburg’s refusal to pay its half of the non-net-billable budget expenses for operation of the TBPA, will be used as a catalyst to transition the Tyee plant over to a single operating entity and not have both TBPA and SEAPA involved in running the plant. It’s a needless duplication of effort and expenses.
Should both assemblies agree on a transition plan, we hope Petersburg will consider paying their share of the non-net billable expenses, currently borne by Wrangell, until such a time as the Authority is disbanded. It’s not fair to have Wrangell bearing the expenses alone while the Authority is still in existence.
Tuesday’s meeting in Wrangell got the discussion started. We hope the two bodies will provide the leadership to eliminate costly duplication of effort in the management and operation of the Tyee project.