10 | ELECTRICLIGHT&POWER Jan|Feb|2016
Feature Utility CEOs of the Year
Developing a new renewable energy project that is economically viable
requires a highly creative approach to financing, and minimization of
significant, daunting risks that are unique to Alaska.
EL&P: KCP&L had a busy year, too. You filed for a rate
increase, announced that three coal plants were going to be
closed and started a major electric vehicle charging program.
All in all, would you rate how those things went?
Bassham: 2015 was a busy year on many fronts. As we wrapped up
almost 10 years of strategic construction to position ourselves for the
future, we filed rate cases in both our states. The cases were long and
tough work, as always, but we received fair orders under traditional
cost of service rate making. We continue to communicate and work
with our regulators to recognize that the marketplace we operate in
now has changed and regulation needs to change with it. Without
traditional load growth and with continual mandated increases in cost,
traditional ratemaking does not allow us a fair opportunity to fully
earn our allowed rate of return. We will continue to work with our
regulators and legislators to improve the structure and model.
ELP: It seems like solar wouldn’t be much of an option
near the Arctic Circle. Is hydropower the sole option for
renewables there or is AP&T looking at other sources?
Grimm: It is interesting that you have dismissed solar for locations
near the Arctic Circle. We have a solar installation in Eagle, Alaska,
which is located just 118 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Based on
an annual cycle, this project is projected to capture about 75 percent
of the solar energy available in the “Sunshine State” city of Tampa,
Florida. However, the difference is solar energy available near the
Arctic Circle, home of the midnight sun, is much more seasonal than
in Florida. An interesting fact is that April is the highest production as
the snow cover reflects solar onto the arrays, increasing production.
In Southeast Alaska, we are blessed with significant
hydropower potential that we have learned to develop. However,
many of our locations in the interior of Alaska lack a nearby
hydropower resource. This has allowed us to focus on solar
and wind power operating in a hybrid manner with our existing
generation as a future renewable solution. We also see that cost-effective storage will enhance this solution.
Bassham, center, talks with other community leaders at substation ribbon cutting.