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AK Beat: MEA forecasts steep rate increase

Alaska Dispatch News

MEA predicts hefty rate increase by end of 2015: Palmer-based Matanuska Electric Association is telling members to expect an overall increase in retail rates of 15 to 20 percent over the next 18 months. The co-operative issued the prediction in a news release Friday. MEA says the increase is driven by the cost of fuels, primarily increased natural gas, used to produce power at Eklutna Generation Station. The increase is also driven by construction costs associated with EGS, the new power plant the co-op built to end its reliance on power-buying contracts with Chugach Electric Association. The plant is expected to come online in early 2015. MEA on Friday also announced a 2.19 percent rate increase authorized by its board on Monday, effective in October. The average member can expect a monthly increase of about $1.70 as a result.

Anchorage named fourth-best outdoor town: Outside magazine has rated Anchorage one of America’s best outdoor towns in its September issue, using measures that included access to outdoor adventure, healthy eating options, green, open spaces, unemployment rates, median incomes, and an editor’s choice variable to summarize how livable a place is. Anchorage received 83,601 votes from readers and an “O-score” of 83 (with 100 being perfect). That left Alaska’s largest city fourth in the survey, trailing only Minneapolis, Provo, Utah, and winner; Duluth, Minnesota. Readers cast 1.5 million votes in the competition, which began as a 64-town bracket. The story quotes Alaska Dispatch News columnist Erin Kirkland, explaining part of Anchorage’s appeal:  “Summer…is when Alaska really comes alive. ‘Where the city ends, the wilderness begins,’ says Kirkland. There’s not a single sport you can’t do here, be it sea kayaking at Resurrection Bay or mountain biking at Kincaid. ‘It’s pretty amazing to live in that.’" Winning towns don’t necessarily celebrate. “Every year . . . the editors receive threats from residents of places like Bend, Oregon, and Missoula, Montana, suggesting they will cause bodily harm for encouraging hordes to move to their personal paradise,” said Outside magazine editor Chris Keyes. “But the passion of people who really care is turning once-forgotten mill towns and depot stations into vibrant towns boasting elegant bistros, art galleries, elaborate trail systems, restored rivers, and tremendous open spaces.”

Relief checks headed toward commercial fishermen: King salmon fishermen in Alaska’s Yukon and Kuskokwim commercial fisheries and salmon fisherman in Cook Inlet commercial fisheries will be eligible for some $7.8 million in compensation for losses from the 2012 season, which was declared a disaster, reports industry site Undercurrent News. About $3.2 million will be headed to the Y-K region, with the remaining 4.6 million to cook Inlet, said NOAA Fisheries in a Monday press release. “Impacted fisherman will be receiving their application for these disaster relief funds in the mail,” NOAA writes. The agency is also planning a second grant in coming months, it said.