Energizing Change: Reflections on Chugach Electric Board Elections and Future Goals

Early this spring, we endorsed two pro-renewable, pro-union incumbent candidates for the Chugach Electric Association Board: Mark Wiggin and Sam Cason. We worked hard alongside volunteers and partners to knock nearly 3,000 of our neighbors’ doors, call over 15,000 community members, and send over 4,500 texts to friends, family, and other voters about the candidates. 

This year’s total turnout was 14%. While this is slightly lower than last year’s record-breaking turnout, it is still significantly higher than the historic average of about 10% participation. As we spoke with folks in person and on the phones, we heard our hopes confirmed: many of our community members are aware that they have a right to vote in utility elections. We are thrilled to see this greater awareness, and hope the trend continues.

One of our endorsed candidates, Mark Wiggin, won his seat for another four years, while opponent Dan Rogers beat out our other endorsed candidate, former Board Chair Sam Cason. At the first Board meeting after the election, Mark Wiggin was voted in as the new Chair of the Board in a 5-2 vote. 

We are eager to see Chair Wiggin continue his leadership on this Board, and for the entirety of Chugach Electric Association to move forward with its work to get more renewable energy online. After we have rested and recharged, it is time to support the Directors in charting the course that is best for our communities and achieves the triple bottom line of reliability, affordability, and sustainability. Member-owners of the utility are always permitted to attend and comment at the public meetings of the Board, which you can find listed on the Chugach website

Some of the Board’s current focus areas include: the new 500-kilowatt community solar project that will start taking subscriptions later this year; a potential wind power development which could provide 20% of Chugach’s total power needs; updating its facilities to include solar panels on site; and the One Campus plan which will bring all former Municipal Light & Power employees onto the same working campus as the pre-existing Chugach Electric teams. 

Additionally, the Board is hearing from experts on emerging technologies, like tidal power. At the most recent Board meeting, Ocean Renewable Power Company presented about the potential in Alaska, which is home to the vast majority of tidal energy in the United States. 

If you are interested in getting more involved with your electric utility, but aren’t sure where to start, contact Alex Petkanas at [email protected] to figure out the best way for you to plug in. Board elections are over – now it’s time to get to work!

With Renewable Enthusiasm,
The Alaska Center

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