For your pocketbook!
It's that time of year again. Chugach Electric Association ballots will go out to ratepayers March 27. Many people ask, "Why should I bother voting?" The answers are many. But one thing is for sure:
Utility costs are going up!
That’s our current environment. The most important reason to participate is that your one vote can make the difference between the election of board candidates controlled by special interests or candidates who will represent you. This means dollars in or out of your pocketbook.
You might think, "I don't have enough information to make an informed choice." Please read on for background information to prepare you in choosing the candidates who will best represent your interest and to help you understand the media blitz soon to occur.
Chugach is owned by the ratepayers it serves, but the vast majority of its members take no interest in its affairs. Typically only 15% of members vote in co-op elections too often resulting in control of the board from the minority special interest that always votes.
What is a special interest? A special interest is different from the general (or membership) interest in that it seeks to obtain benefits, advantages, or privileges for itself beyond what it would ordinarily be entitled to as an average member of the public. At Chugach Electric, the special interest is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union (IBEW) that represents the majority of Chugach employees.
Every year, the IBEW Union and its friends are the source of the majority of money spent on campaign advertising. This money is directed against independent candidates. The employee groups typically spend over $50,000 to influence these non-profit co-op elections! These high-financed campaigns too often result in the placement of directors friendly to the IBEW Union on the Chugach board because truly independent candidates that have nothing to gain financially from service on the board have trouble raising enough money to get their message out. This is how the IBEW gets its real power over your co-op. Do you really want the IBEW Union controlling both sides of contract negotiations?
It is not surprising that the policies passed by the special interest boards that are elected "give away the farm" and increase operational costs for Chugach that have to be passed on to the ratepayers -- that's you.
Last year the voters said, “Enough!”, voting in three reform candidates, Alan Christopherson, Uwe Kalenka and Liz Vasquez. However, they can’t do this alone. Without a reform majority, special interest sympathizers will stop their attempts at cost-saving reforms (including upcoming labor contract negotiations). To continue making progress, they need your help -- by voting to reelect Ray Kreig and add Dave Ausman to replace an IBEW Union sympathizer who is undermining reforms.
Chugach Consumers, a grassroots group of fiscally concerned co-op members, says that reforms must and can continue at Chugach, but only with your help. Operating Expenses can be controlled if Chugach ends restrictive work rules that limit cost control efforts. The price of many new homes could be decreased if more competitive contract bidding was used to eliminate unnecessary inflation of power line extension construction costs. Anchorage could see more overhead lines being buried if costs were reduced. With reform, Chugach should be able to deliver safe, reliable power, sensibly and efficiently, at far lower costs.
High utility rates hurt everyone, the individual consumer, the small business owner and the couple on a fixed income. Does the IBEW Union really deserve that kind of power over your co-op? No! Your vote can stop them.
WHICH CANDIDATE? Some candidates are using confusing tactics to deceive ratepayers into believing they are working for you, but do not be deceived. Look for the Chugach Consumers smiling light bulb for assurance that a candidate is looking out for your best interest.
Do something for yourself and your family's financial future. Let your friends, neighbors, and coworkers know how important the Chugach elections are. Vote your Chugach ballot when it arrives March 27! Chugach Electric Association is owned by you--please protect your investment and participate. Do not wait for others to look after your best interests. Take part and vote your mailed ballot. Visit www.ChugachConsumers.org for more information.
4/10/05 - Chugach Electric critic pushes for negotiations - by Claire Chandler - Alaska Journal of Commerce http://www.alaskajournal.com/stories/041005/hom_20050410003.shtml
4/20/05 - Change needed at Chugach Electric - by Ray Kreig - Voice of the Times in the Anchorage Daily News. http://www.adn.com/opinion/voice/story/6398460p-6277428c.html [<< see bottom of the page]