Petersburg will have a new voting member on the board that owns two Southeast Alaska hydro-electric projects and the transmission lines connecting Petersburg, Wrangell and Ketchikan.
Peterburg’s borough assembly Monday voted to appoint Bob Lynn to the board of directors for the Southeast Alaska Power Agency, or SEAPA, along with mayor Mark Jensen. Lynn, who’s retired from the U.S. Forest Service and was on the borough assembly until October, will be Petersburg’s voting member on that board. Jensen will be the alternate.
Lynn replaces the mayor’s brother, John Jensen, in that seat. John Jensen is also the chairman of the state Board of Fish.
The decision was done by anonymous ballot. The mayor and six assembly members voted for their top two choices, although not everyone voted for two.
Mayor Mark Jensen explained what the SEAPA board does. “It just runs the business of the Southeast Alaska Power Agency, the two dams that provide us the 6.8 cent wholesale power and has for 19 years. So it’s nice to have a local presence and that’s the way it was set up when it was divested from Four Dam Pool.”
SEAPA owns the hydro-electric power plants at Swan Lake near Ketchikan and Lake Tyee near Wrangell. It sells electricity to utilities in the three communities. The Four Dam Pool included Swan and Tyee, along with other projects in Kodiak and the Copper Valley. That split up in 2009 leading to the joint agency between Petersburg, Wrangell and Ketchikan. The SEAPA board meets in Petersburg in December.
In related news, the assembly voted to award a contract of near 60,000 dollars to Electric Power Systems of Anchorage to install a sectionalizing switch for the Petersburg Fisheries Plant and the Trading Union. It will allow Petersburg Municipal Power and Light to isolate those large customers during outages.
Assembly member and Icicle Seafoods electrician Brandi Marohl thought the work should be done by power and light employees and not an outside company. “I personally don’t think that it’s necessary to spend 60,000 dollars when we have the capabilities of doing in-house.”
However, interim superintendent Scott Newman said he was losing an electrician from his staff and didn’t have a large enough crew to dedicate to the project.
“You know if we had a bigger crew like we did six years ago, we had six lineman, then you could take four or five guys and say OK, do this job and stay on it until it’s complete,” Newman explained. “Right now you go to where I can’t send ‘em up there and OK go to work and then pull off and they go do line orders or run a service to a house.”
The assembly in May voted to cut a lineman position from the budget. That was a position meant to help the department complete projects in-house, instead of contracting out to a private company.
Marohl and mayor Jensen voted against the contract but it passed 5-2. The work could happen in early December and will mean an interruption in electrical service to those businesses.
Assembly members also approved a screening process for the next power and light superintendent. The borough is advertising for applicants. Borough manager Steve Giesbrecht said the application period might have to be extended.
“We’ve got some local candidates and we have some people from the outside world but I can tell that you we don’t have a large number of either yet,” Giesbrecht said. “We had set a deadline of December 1st as a cut off. We’ll see over the next week or so. If I don’t see an awful lot of stuff coming in, we might want to extend that.”
Assembly members Marohl and Nancy Strand volunteered to help with screening during the first round of interviewing applicants. Giesbrecht had hoped to start that early next month.