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  Jerry Ritter (907) 465-3804
Maggie Wall (907) 465-4582
State Capitol
Juneau, AK 99801
web site:
http://www.akrepublicans.org
Actuality line: 1-800-478-6540

Electric Utility Restructuring Committee Final Report Submitted
Pilot Program Seen As a Possibility

For Immediate Release: January 18, 1999 Contact: Rep. Norman Rokeberg at (907) 465-4968 or Sen. Loren Leman at (907) 465-2095.

Juneau -- The Alaska Legislature's Joint Committee on Electric Utility Restructuring has determined that restructuring the electric utility system to allow competition for services could benefit Alaskans. However, the committee notes that Alaska's unique circumstances compared with other states may require a different approach before electric utility restructuring takes place.

"I believe that free market competition is the best protection for consumers because it maximizes value to consumers," said committee member Senator Loren Leman (R-Anchorage). "Retail competition should be encouraged, but the overall benefit to the consumer and acceptable standards of safety, economy, reliability, and universal availability must be considered as well," Leman said.

The committee remains split on whether or not the Legislature should provide additional guidance to the Alaska Public Utilities Commission. The committee joined with the APUC on a three-month study to determine how restructuring should occur in Alaska. Part of the study is due on March 1, 1999, in time to allow the Legislature to act this session, if legislative changes are necessary.

"I would caution patience, study, and informed decision-making by Alaska policy makers when considering this issue," said Representative Norman Rokeberg (R-Anchorage), committee co-chair. "Establishment of a pilot program of limited scope, a program which could yield solid data regarding the efficiency of electric utility restructuring, appears to be a reasonable way to go," Rokeberg said.

The committee noted the lack of public awareness of and participation in the investigation of whether or not restructuring is in the state's best interests. The report cautions that some way must be found to involve the public more fully so consumers don't find themselves facing a changed system without knowing why or what impacts it might have.

"The primary goal of electric utility restructuring is to bring Alaska consumers low cost and more efficient electric service," Rokeberg said. "The bottom line always has been and will continue to be: Can and will it benefit Alaskans?"

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Broadcasters note: Audio comments from Rep. Rokeberg and Sen. Leman are available on the Majority Actuality line, 1-800-478-6540
= Loren Leman, 132 K = Norman Rokeberg, 84 K