Mayors Sullivan, Carey, DeVilbiss launch Energy Watch 2011-12 as Local Governments, Utilities Continue Planning for Energy Emergency
Third year of the public awareness campaign will again include conservation test
ANCHORAGE- Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey and
Matanuska-Susitna Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss today announce the commitment to again
raise the public’s awareness about a potential energy emergency this winter. The plan is a
cooperative effort between the Municipality of Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula and Mat-Su
boroughs and regional utility organizations.
The “Energy Watch” campaign continues its focus on actions citizens can take to reduce their
energy use during the winter if and when natural gas delivery pressures drop low enough to
warrant concern. A stoplight concept will be utilized to advise customers to reduce their energy
consumption by varying degrees: energy condition green represents normal, everyday
conservation measures; energy condition yellow represents turning down the thermostat and a
reduction in some household activities; and energy condition red represents the same reductions
but to a larger degree.
Utility groups have been exploring solutions to a potential energy emergency for some time. This
is the third consecutive year the Municipality of Anchorage and regional governments have
worked together to involve the public. Mayor Sullivan said shortly after taking office that being
prepared for an energy emergency was a priority for his administration. “It’s always better to have
a plan and hope you don’t have to use it than vice versa.”
“We were successful in involving the public in this effort the last two years,” said Mayor Sullivan.
“And by working together with citizens on the Kenai Peninsula and in Mat-Su, I’m confident we’ll
be successful again.”
“Preparation is the key to success in any emergency situation,” said Kenai Peninsula Borough
Mayor David Carey. “The partnerships established between our utilities, local governments and
emergency responders, as part of the Energy Watch program, have us well positioned to deal
with a potential natural gas delivery problem on the Kenai Peninsula.”
"It could be that this winter will be our most critical in terms of a potential shortfall in gas supply,”
said Matanuska-Susitna Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss. “Energy conservation works. For
example, through conservation and awareness, MEA's power consumption has been reduced
over the last three years despite a growing population."
Utilities have several options for purchasing gas from producers to meet the winter’s needs, so
the question is whether it can be delivered at the same rate that customers demand it. As gas
fields age, they lose pressure, and therefore available deliverability decreases causing the
potential for problems.
The next steps include revisiting the public awareness campaign on television; at public speaking
events; in utility bills; and via press releases. In addition, as a test of the “Energy Watch” system,
the public will be asked to practice voluntary conservation measures on Wed., Oct. 19, 2011 from
6-8 p.m. in order to gauge how much natural gas can be saved through conservation efforts.
In addition to the campaign, Municipality of Anchorage Municipal Manager George Vakalis and
Emergency Operations Center staff are conducting table-top exercises with representatives of
local utilities and other organizations to practice for a real energy emergency, and develop
responses to any unanticipated challenges.
The following organizations are participating in this year’s “Energy Watch” campaign:
• Municipality of Anchorage
• Mat-Su Borough
• Kenai Peninsula Borough
• Municipal Light & Power
• ENSTAR Natural Gas Company
• Chugach Electric Association
• Matanuska Electric Association
• Homer Electric Association