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SEAPA moves forward with transfer of Tyee hydroelectric facility

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The SEAPA Board of Directors discusses hydropower projects at the Nolan Center in Wrangell on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (Katarina Sostaric/KSTK)

The Southeast Alaska Power Agency is moving forward with plans to take over the Tyee Lake hydroelectric facility.

SEAPA owns Tyee Lake, one of the facilities that powers Wrangell, Petersburg and Ketchikan. But the Thomas Bay Power Authority (TBPA) has a contract for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of Tyee. The Thomas Bay Power Commission, which oversees TBPA, voted earlier this month to turn operations and maintenance over to SEAPA.

SEAPA board chairman Bob Sivertsen said the board Thursday resolved to terminate its contract with TBPA, leaving a year for negotiations.

“Because we understand the process we’re going down is going to work anyway. We’re gonna get to a point when we take over those operations, and the employees become SEAPA, and we make the communities whole,” Sivertsen said. “And our whole intent here is to provide cheap power for the communities, and we’ll continue to do that.”

At is regular meeting this week in Wrangell, SEAPA indicated it wants TBPA to keep operating the facility until everything is finalized. The TPBA is a joint project of Wrangell and Petersburg, so both borough assemblies must approve a final contract to complete the transfer.

Sivertsen said SEAPA has addressed concerns from Wrangell and Petersburg regarding the current employees of TPBA.

“So in moving forward today, we’ve recognized that we’ve negotiated a union contract that’s favorable for all parties, which is good. And we’ll continue to work on finalizing that,” Sivertsen said.

Union representatives have to ratify a collective bargaining agreement before SEAPA absorbs facility employees.

As for the general manager and administrative clerk of TBPA, SEAPA decided to keep them in place–at least until the GM’s contract runs out in May 2015. But further developments at Friday’s TBPA meeting made it unclear whether they will continue to serve in those positions.

Borough officials have yet to review the new terms set out by SEAPA. Then, they will determine whether SEAPA really did address their concerns.

SEAPA CEO Trey Acteson said the personnel side of the transfer is almost set. SEAPA is still working on the business aspect.

“You know there’s insurance, there’s other contracts we have to absorb. And some things like that. We haven’t been able to get those due diligence documents from the TBPA,” Acteson said. “So we’re working on getting that information.”

TBP commissioners directed the TBPA to release those documents to SEAPA, but there was no response from the TBPA office.

Acteson said he hopes the transfer is complete in the next 60 or 90 days.

“I think the next process forward is SEAPA will move another kind of a final contract forward to the communities of Petersburg and Wrangell to take back to their respective assemblies. And that would essentially be the last formal process to initiate that turnover,” Acteson said.

The board also discussed the rebates it usually pays to member communities. There has been talk of withholding those rebates, but the board will make that decision at its August meeting.

The end of SEAPA Resolution No. 2014-054 reads as follows:

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of the Southeast Alaska Power Agency, pursuant to its O&M Agreement with TBPA, Section 2(b), providing for a one-year termination period, hereby terminates the O&M Agreement, and requests that during the period of negotiations in order to complete the transfer of Tyee’s operations and maintenance the TBPA continue to operate Tyee pursuant to the O&M Agreement to provide ongoing services to the Member Utilities of Petersburg and Wrangell. Delivery of this resolution to TBPA shall provide any necessary notice required by the O&M Agreement.


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