Don Young raises concerns over AEL&P purchase

A Canadian power company has refiled its application to finish its acquisition of Juneau’s power company.

Alaska Congressman Don Young has written to express his concern.

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The latest filing has already attracted at least two critical comments. One of those is a letter from Congressman Young.

The Republican representative wants assurances that the Snettisham Hydro Complex — which was was built by the federal government in the 1970s and supplies the lion’s share of Juneau’s electricity — doesn’t pass into foreign ownership.

“I can insure (sic) you that it was never Congress’ intent that this asset be transferred for the potential profiteering by Canadian government interests,” Young wrote.

The province of Ontario holds a 49.9 percent stake in Hydro One.

The state owns Snettisham, but its upkeep is the responsibility of Juneau-based Alaska Electric Light and Power.

AEL&P buys all the power Snettisham produces under a 1998 agreement. It also has an option to purchase the hydroelectric complex at any time. That option could pass to Hydro One once it completes its takeover of AEL&P’s parent corporation Avista of Spokane.

Young wrote that he doesn’t oppose the acquisition, but wants assurances that the hydro complex will remain in the hands of the state or local owners.

Young hinted at Congressional action if those assurances aren’t made. Young’s office declined further comment.

State regulators rejected Hydro One’s previous application on a technicality. That filing received more than 30 comments, most of them critical of the deal.

The Juneau Assembly is watching the process closely.

Earlier this year, the Assembly openly floated the idea making a bid for the power company, But Hydro One says AEL&P is not for sale.

The latest filing with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska reopens the public comment period through Dec. 21.

Jacob Resneck is CoastAlaska's regional news director in Juneau.

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