Sitka’s electric rates are going up, but not as much as they might have. The Sitka Assembly on Monday chose the smaller of two potential rate hikes, by a vote of 4 to 3.
The increase is necessary to keep up with Sitka’s debt payments on the Blue Lake dam. A household using about 1000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each month will see their electric bill go up by about 6%, or about $8 a month.
Mayor Mim McConnell voted in favor, joined by assembly members Michelle Putz, Ben Miyasato and Tristan Guevin. Matt Hunter and Aaron Swanson voted no, saying they favored the larger increase on the table Monday night. That proposal would have raised average residential rates by about 23%, or $28 a month. But Hunter and Swanson said it would have set the Electric Fund on a more sustainable footing.
Steven Eisenbeisz also voted no, but for different reasons. He said he opposes all rate hikes, and feels the city hasn’t sufficiently explored other alternatives.
In order to make the smaller increase possible, the assembly also voted to change the rules governing Sitka’s Southeast Alaska Economic Development fund. That will allow the assembly to transfer about $2.5-million into the Electric Fund.
The Sitka Assembly will meet again on Tuesday, for a work session on the city budget. That meeting will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 in Harrigan Centennial Hall.
Raven News will have more updates on this story tomorrow, Tuesday, May 5.