Chugach Consumers

Frequently Asked Questions


Who are Chugach Consumers?

Chugach Consumers was formed in 1996 to advocate for the general public interest of Chugach Electric ratepayers, to educate consumers, and to diversify our economy. It is a group of fiscally-concerned ratepayers and others that support safe, reliable power at the lowest possible cost for all electric utility customers in South Central Alaska.

Chugach Consumers is just what it sounds like: a grassroots group of fiscally concerned Chugach Electric ratepayers. Consumers have no choice for electric service because utilities are granted exclusive service areas. History shows that consumers cannot rely on the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (formerly, Alaska Public Utilities Commission) to protect them against the costs of monopoly. This can be done only by an informed membership electing strong, independent, fiscally conservative Directors to our co-op Board, Directors who will serve only the consumers' best interest.

Citizens for an Independent Chugach Electric (CICE), a predecessor organization to Chugach Consumers, was founded in 1991 to end IBEW Union control of the Chugach Electric board and return our co-op to the membership. CICE fulfilled its mission. It successfully passed three reform bylaws to give members access to information, reduce director conflict of interest, and require free and open competitive bidding. 

Chugach Consumers was formed in 1996 to focus on the broader spectrum of electric consumer interests -- increasing the value of what we receive for our hard-earned dollars from Chugach Electric Association. 

A name like Chugach Consumers emphasizes who we are and whose interests we serve -- all Chugach consumers: both direct retail as well as wholesale ultimate end users.  In addition to 64,400 direct Chugach customers, Chugach Electric indirectly serves those living in the Mat Valley and the Kenai Peninsula by selling wholesale power to the Matanuska and Homer Electric associations and the City of Seward.  Customers of Anchorage Municipal Light & Power will also be benefited by the necessary responses to the competitive forces of Chugach Electric lowering its electric rates. By keeping costs low at Chugach, we can therefore actually lower the cost of power for ALL consumers in the Railbelt.

We have acquired the CICE mascot, the little smiling light bulb.  He is the symbol for clean, honest, independent candidates who put electric ratepayers' interests first!

Isn't Chugach Consumers just another special interest?

NO! A special interest is different from the general public (or membership) interest in that it seeks to obtain benefits, advantages or privileges for itself above and beyond what it ordinarily would be entitled to as an average member of the public. At Chugach Electric, the special interest is the IBEW Union, which represents the majority of co-op workers under three contracts: Outside Electrical, Generation, and Office and Engineering.

The independent board majority fought very hard to pass a bylaw reducing conflict of interest, a bylaw strongly opposed by IBEW-backed board members. Now members and employees of the IBEW Union as well as suppliers, contractors, consultants and others doing business with Chugach Electric are not allowed to serve on the Board, nor is anyone holding more than a 10% interest in such a business. Chugach Consumers just consists of fellow ratepayers, and its candidates and supporters get the same benefits as other ratepayers from an independent and effective Board -- better service, lower prices and a better business environment. NO SPECIAL DEALS for Chugach Consumers-endorsed candidates or supporters.

Where does Chugach Consumers get its money?

Most of the people who work on Chugach Consumers issues are volunteers. Contributions come from ratepayers dismayed at being forced to pay excessive electric bills and who feel that the Board should represent the public interest, not the IBEW Union's. We're trying to cut everyone's electric bill, at no sacrifice in safety or reliability, and we'd appreciate any contribution of money, time or expertise you could make towards our efforts to achieve the important community objective of lowering the cost of living for everyone.

As a ratepayer, why should I vote for Chugach Consumer-backed candidates?

Your electric bills are at least 20% higher than they should be if Chugach was being run to national norms of economic efficiency.  Without strong independent board members your interests will take a back seat to those enjoying the gravy train at Chugach because of lax management and public apathy.

Former independent boards set goals of being in the top 10% nationwide in delivering value to its customers.  Chugach needs to return to that goal.  Because Chugach Electric is granted a monopoly in its service area, the Board must be independent, experienced and effective to make sure that efficiencies are achieved and that excess costs are stopped before they have to be passed on to the ratepayers. The independent Board began a series of benchmarking studies to compare Chugach with other utilities and identify potential savings and best practices. These studies revealed that Chugach spends above-average amounts on salaries, line maintenance and warehousing. The Board should be demanding that you get better value for your electricity purchases.

A strong, experienced, independent Board is needed for arms-length labor negotiation with the IBEW Union to avoid the one-sidedness of the current labor contract that resulted when IBEW Union and its allies sat on both sides of the bargaining table.  An IBEW Union takeover of the board unfortunately occurred again in 2006 and within 6 months, the IBEW Union-backed board voted a 16% wage increase and 30% benefit increase rather than fairly negotiate the contract.  Chugach Consumers wants a contract that is both fair to its employees and to the ratepayers, eliminating featherbedding and wasteful work rules that reward inefficiency and provide no extra value to consumers, while at the same time preserving safety for co-op employees, some of whom work with a dangerous product -- electricity.

Okay, I'm convinced an independent board is vital to our co-op. How can I judge for myself if a board candidate will truly represent my interests first?

You should read each candidate's statement in the voter's pamphlet to see what they have to say. Many claim to be independent who are not, and you cannot always tell ahead of time.  Chugach Consumers thinks that candidates should continue to strive for low electrical rates and increased accountability from Chugach management. 

Is Chugach Consumers part of Chugach Electric Association?

No. Chugach Consumers is not related in any way to Chugach Electric Association.  Chugach Consumers is a non-governmental public service organization of community volunteers and occasional part time paid help during campaigns.

If you have questions, please contact Chugach Consumers.

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This website was created by volunteers concerned about our community. We hope it's useful and that you learn a lot about efforts being made to reduce your electric energy costs and what you can do to help yourself in that regard!