Challenger elected to Chugach Electric Association board, chair loses seat

A former electrical engineer who had suggested that both coal and renewable power should be looked at as possible solutions to Alaska’s energy crisis was elected to a board seat on the state’s largest power cooperative.

The Chugach Electric Association announced the results Friday at its annual meeting.

Dan Rogers, a former employee for the utility with experience tying renewable power into electrical grids, said in an interview on Monday that he wants to use his seat to focus on finding new sources of hydropower but will also look at all options for electrical generation.

Chair Sam Cason, an attorney and former public advocate before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, lost his seat in the race.

“Even though I am of course disappointed, I very much appreciate the support and endorsements I received,” Cason said in a statement Monday.

Two incumbents and two challengers were running for two, four-year terms in the election that ended on Friday.

Board member Mark Wiggin led results with 6,675 votes. Wiggin is a former deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources who said in a debate last month the utility needs to increase renewable generation and reduce natural gas use.


Rogers received the second-most votes, with 6,449.

Cason received 5,892 votes.

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Todd Lindley, a mechanical engineer for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., finished fourth with 4,877 votes.

Elections for the utility’s board have received more attention in recent years as Alaska faces a natural gas shortage in the Cook Inlet basin.

The situation is expected to lead to imports of liquefied natural gas that would significantly boost bills. About 80% of the utility’s power comes from natural gas, and the utility has been studying wind and solar power projects to help offset that dependance.

Close to 13,000 utility members, about 14% of the membership, cast votes in the monthlong election.

Cason has served two terms on the board, including most recently starting in 2020.

Prominent groups had endorsed Cason and Wiggin, the incumbents.

They included The Alaska Center, a progressive group that works on a range of issues including conservation, and the Renewable Energy Alaska Project. The Alaska Center had said the incumbents are “proven community leaders who support the development and harnessing of renewable energy here at home.”

Lindley and Rogers ran independently of each other, but had teamed up to get their views out, including with a campaign website.

Rogers, who has founded companies that work for utilities in areas such as transmission, said in an interview on Monday that in addition to focusing on hydropower, he wants to help create a generation plan for the utility that’s economical and can resolve the energy crisis.

He said he supports wind and solar projects that are cost-effective and will work well.

But he said that using hydropower that’s readily available is the best way to anchor wind and solar power that can fluctuate.

“That’s a natural resource that we really have not exploited the way we should,” he said of hydropower.

“Everybody wants hydro but nobody wants hydro near them, because they’re afraid it’s going to harm a fishery or whatever else,” he said. “So if we really want to do renewables, we’ve got to start looking seriously at hydro again.”

Hydropower is by far the dominant source of renewable electricity for Chugach Electric. It’s also the primary source of renewable electricity in Alaska. But many of the hydropower projects in the state were built decades ago.


In 2023, hydropower supplied about 90% of Alaska’s renewable electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In the debate last month, Rogers had called himself a “hydro guy” but also suggested that a coal plant could potentially be developed quickly and be fitted with new carbon capture and storage technology to allow carbon dioxide emissions to be stored underground.

A study from the University of Alaska Fairbanks this year has recommended that a coal-fired power plant be built in Southcentral Alaska to generate electricity for the Railbelt. The study assumes that a coal power plant would be built off the contentious West Susitna Access Road proposed near proven coal seams.

Rogers said on Monday he’s “dedicated to looking at all the options for generation.”

Rogers will attend his first Chugach Electric board meeting as a board member on Wednesday, he said. Imports of liquefied gas are on tap for a discussion in executive session, among other matters, the agenda shows.

The utility has 91,000 members.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or