Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/09/2001 01:20 PM RLS

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 84 - PUBLIC UTILITY JOINT ACTION AGENCIES                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
[Contains discussion of HB 119, the companion bill.]                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOTT  announced the final  item of business, CS  FOR SENATE                                                               
BILL  NO.  84(FIN),  "An  Act   exempting  certain  joint  action                                                               
agencies  from   regulation  by  the  state   or  municipalities;                                                               
relating  to  the  relationship   between  certain  joint  action                                                               
agencies  and the  public utilities  that form  the joint  action                                                               
agencies;  relating to  powers and  immunities  of certain  joint                                                               
action agencies; requiring filing  of certain joint action agency                                                               
agreements; relating  to the financial  affairs of  certain joint                                                               
action agencies;  declaring certain  joint action agencies  to be                                                               
political   subdivisions  for   certain  purposes;   relating  to                                                               
liability and indemnification of  officers, employees, and agents                                                               
of   certain  joint   action  agencies;   and  defining   'agency                                                               
agreement' and  'parties to  the agency  agreement' as  used with                                                               
reference to certain joint action agencies."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOTT  invited Senator Taylor  and Representative  Wilson to                                                               
the witness  table.  He  noted that  the companion bill  [HB 119,                                                               
sponsored  by  Representative  Wilson]  was heard  in  two  House                                                               
committees [the  House Labor and Commerce  Standing Committee and                                                               
the House Judiciary Standing Committee].                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 0584                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  ROBIN TAYLOR,  Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor  of SB
84,  thanked the  committee for  hearing the  bill expeditiously.                                                               
He reminded members that the  previous year, legislation provided                                                               
for the  future endowment  of the  power cost  equalization (PCE)                                                               
program.   It also provided for  the transfer of assets  from the                                                               
State  of Alaska  to what  is now  called a  joint action  agency                                                               
(JAA), to  operate the Four  Dam Pool  assets; the hope  was that                                                               
sometime  in  the future  -  after  the  debt  to the  state  for                                                               
purchase of  those assets was  paid off  - those assets  would be                                                               
transferred   to  the   communities   receiving  the   electrical                                                               
generation.   It isn't  known how that  transition may  occur, or                                                               
when.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR TAYLOR explained  that because of the  hurried passage of                                                               
that legislation,  not all  details were  addressed.   During the                                                               
interim,   the  "power   management  committee,"   AIDEA  [Alaska                                                               
Industrial  Development  and  Export Authority],  the  governor's                                                               
office, and the affected communities  began working diligently on                                                               
how to  transfer these assets.   Many questions  arose, including                                                               
whether rights-of-way were  needed for power lines,  who owns the                                                               
land under those,  and what the liability would  be of individual                                                               
council members  and communities.   Some  of those  questions had                                                               
not been resolved when the legislation passed.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR TAYLOR  noted that although he  and Representative Wilson                                                               
had  worked  with  the  people  involved,  neither  authored  the                                                               
legislation; he  considers the attorney general's  office, AIDEA,                                                               
the affected  communities, and their  attorneys, who  brought the                                                               
legislation  [to the  sponsors], to  be  as much  the authors  as                                                               
anyone.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0802                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  TAYLOR explained  the reason  for  expediting the  bill.                                                               
Agreements  have  to  be  signed   by  [representatives  of]  the                                                               
communities,  after their  attorneys  look  at [the  agreements].                                                               
Before  that, however,  the property  transactions and  liability                                                               
aspects must be  addressed.  "Until they sign,  the money doesn't                                                               
flow that  endows PCE,"  he told  members.   "And PCE's  going to                                                               
impact  your   budget  pretty  significantly  this   year."    He                                                               
indicated everyone is in agreement  about the version that passed                                                               
the Senate, and emphasized the need to get this done soon.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0873                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PEGGY WILSON,  Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor                                                               
of companion bill  HB 119, stated that all sides  are happy about                                                               
it now, and everything is in place, including legal issues.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  asked whether  the changes made  in the                                                               
House version are incorporated into the Senate version.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON answered affirmatively.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ   asked  whether  they   are  identical                                                               
documents but with different titles.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  TAYLOR replied,  "The one  that came  out of  [the House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee]  on your side."   He commented that                                                               
this has been a 15-year struggle,  then said, "We're going to pay                                                               
$70-plus  million  dollars  to   get  these  assets  conveyed  to                                                               
communities.   I think it's a  good deal for the  communities.  I                                                               
think it's a good deal for the state."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0936                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING  remarked that  he has struggled  with the                                                               
concept of  setting up an endowment  for PCE, and has  never been                                                               
totally convinced that it needs  to be subsidized.  However, this                                                               
at least takes it out of  the "general fund picture."  He thanked                                                               
the sponsors for  their efforts, and said he hopes  it works well                                                               
for communities.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR TAYLOR  explained that  in the long  run, if  [the state]                                                               
doesn't  endow PCE  and  give some  incentives,  which this  will                                                               
provide,  it will  still be  subsidizing  and endowing  25 or  30                                                               
years from now.  He concluded:                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     I really  believe this is  the greatest  opportunity we                                                                    
     have,  as a  state, to  develop the  interties that  we                                                                    
     need.   We've  got federal  funding now  available, for                                                                    
     $420 million in interties in  Southeast alone.  Some of                                                                    
     those will go to communities  like Craig, Kake, and ...                                                                    
     Angoon,  that are  some  of the  biggest  users of  PCE                                                                    
     power  right now.   The  minute we  get an  intertie to                                                                    
     them, they're no longer on  that system, and they're at                                                                    
     a much reduced rate.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     And  the same  thing needs  to happen  up North,  every                                                                    
     place we  can either  extend an intertie  or get  a gas                                                                    
     well going or a coal-fired  generator going - those are                                                                    
     the  things that  we  need  to do.    But without  this                                                                    
     money, I don't  think that would occur. ...  I think in                                                                    
     the long run  it really works to the benefit  of all of                                                                    
     us.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1016                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING  made a motion  to move CSSB  84(FIN) from                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations  and attached  fiscal                                                               
note(s).  There  being no objection, CSSB 84(FIN)  was moved from                                                               
the House Rules Standing Committee.                                                                                             

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