To the editor:
Do you pay an electric bill for a home or business in the Palmer, Sutton, Chickaloon, Glacier View or Butte areas? If so, you are a member-owner of Matanuska Electric Association. I am running for re-election to the MEA board to continue promoting a healthy power grid while representing our members and keeping rates low. Through my board service I’ve learned a lot about MEA – working with other “railbelt” utilities, necessary upgrades to improve reliability and integrate renewable energy, and other issues related to the Valley’s growth. I’ve lived in Palmer for 31 years, and teach for the University of Alaska, where I am director of a Sustainable Energy program. I believe the board has done a very good job ensuring the fiscal health of the cooperative, while keeping electric rates as low as possible. Providing reliable power is always our top concern, but recent surveys demonstrate 75% of our member-owners want more of our power to come from renewable sources. We already get about 16% of our energy from renewables, mostly hydropower, and we purchase power from the state’s largest solar farm in Willow. The board is developing strategic planning goals that can work to reduce carbon emissions and integrate more renewables. While reliable and affordable power is critical to our modern lifestyles, we usually pay little attention to our electricity until it’s not there. Whether it’s a nice day or we’re hit by a nasty storm (or earthquake), MEA staff do a great job keeping our energy flowing. The board’s job is to represent our member-owners and take a longer view to help set the future direction of our cooperative. Admittedly, this is challenging in the face of rapid changes in the energy sector.My board experience will help MEA continue to be a leader among Alaska’s electric utilities. I will work to implement the changes our member-owners want to see while providing reliable and affordable service. With your vote you have a big voice in our cooperative. On Friday, March 26th the ballots for the Matanuska district board seat go out, and online voting will begin at noon using your MEA Smarthub account. I’d appreciate your continued support as we move forward. If you have questions please feel free to contact me at markformatsu.com or 907-414-0198. You can also check out my page at mea.coop/2021elections. Thanks!