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Sen. Murkowski Asks FERC to Protect Alaskan Consumers from Electricity Rate Increases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to adopt a single per-acre rate for all federal lands in Alaska. Murkowski made the request in comments she filed with FERC on its proposed rulemaking that would revise federal land use fees for hydropower licensees.

“Alaskans already pay entirely too much for electricity, having one of the highest rates in the country,” Murkowski said. “I am adamantly opposed to any attempt to further increase these rates in Alaska.”

Murkowski, the top Republican of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee submitted comments to FERC, asking the Commission to:

  • Clarify its intended treatment of Alaskan entities and, in keeping with its statutory obligations to ensure reasonable fees and avoid consumer rate increases, adopt a single per-acre rate for all federal lands in Alaska.
  • Specify that the inflated National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Census Juneau rate is not applicable for Alaskan hydropower licensees.
  • Consider implementing its new land use fees on a phase-in basis to better protect consumers and to provide licensees with the opportunity to challenge the application of a land use fee formula that results in unreasonable fee increases for a project.

Background

The Federal Power Act requires hydropower licensees to pay the federal government for the use, occupancy and enjoyment of federal lands.  While the Act authorizes the Commission to periodically adjust these charges, FERC is statutorily directed to impose only “reasonable” fees and must “seek to avoid increasing the prices” to end use consumers.

In its proposal, FERC would create a fee schedule based on average per-acre values from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Census – an inappropriate and unworkable approach for Alaska where hydropower supplies almost 25 percent of the State’s electricity needs and over 200 promising sites for future development have already been identified.

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