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 Planning for energy emergency 


Mayor's Office


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

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