Gary Newman February 2018
After nearly 3 years at your board director for District 4, I am running for re-election.
If I take away anything from the past 3 years it is that GVEA has a lot of moving parts. I have have spent a lot of time both learning and contributing about so many issues before the utility. A brief look at the board’s Member book/agenda for our meetings will show that. The entire board works to exercise good governance and I’ve played an active role. It is a demanding effort and I’ve averaged about 70 hours a month since I started.
Probably high on everyone’s mind now is reliability. The weird weather – freezing rain, lots of snow – has taken a toll on trees and power lines, with numerous outages. I researched and pointed out to management in the fall of 2015 that we were falling behind on clearing of our rights-of-way (ROW). As a direct result, GVEA accelerated the pace of clearing, but more acceleration is needed and I anticipate 5 years to get there with over 3,200 miles of service lines in our territory. In GVEA’s defense on snow-ice tree related outages, there are numerous trees that have been impacting the lines that are outside of GVEA’s typical 30’ ROW. The Interior weather has also been pretty disruptive and atypical, but we must be more ready.
I pushed for improving outage notifications and we upgraded our phone service and the outage management system. Our meters will be upgraded in the next year or so and they will be able to report outages by meter, improving the ability of our dispatchers and line crew to make repairs. The mobile app is also of assistance and members are able to pay their bills without having to come into the office.
One area the board focuses on are finances. I can say that administrative costs are down, we have rebated capital credits to our members, both older and newer members, and our financial equity position is markedly improved. The rates will undergo some changes later this year and the board spent extensive time trying to find the best balance for cost-causer, cost-payer.
The Healy 2 coal plant has been a disappointment. It was started up on my 3rd board meeting and I commented that, as a member, I wasn’t supportive, the board was committed to it and I wanted it to be the safest plant it could be. We aren’t there yet and the board, while authorizing the latest investment to fix it, is also concerned.
Air quality is an issue and GVEA has risk with some potentially expensive reductions which ironically probably won’t help very much. GVEA has provided $200,000 toward the wood stove change-out program and may be prepared to do more. We are willing to take natural gas, but with a several million dollar conversion, the price needs to be affordable to not unduly impact all our members. I acknowledge the IGU effort has been a hard project.
I’ve increased the visibility of what the board does by providing written reports on activities. From my advocacy, members are now notified of board meetings through the GVEA Blog and Facebook pages. My reports on activities as a director have been in writing and included in the member book for each board meeting. I work to inform members through regular postings to social media as well as personal contact.
I take particular pleasure in having advocated for a successful bylaw change that no longer requires a signature on a member’s ballot. It hadn’t been common knowledge and actually met with some disbelief that between 10%-12% of ballots for director elections or bylaw changes were being tossed by lack of a signature. I want to enfranchise our members who take the time to vote.
I am also working to find ways to bring more members to our annual meeting. Good information is shared and we get to hear directly from our members. The next annual meeting is Thursday, May 4, 2018, registration at 5:30 pm at Hering Auditorium. If you stay through the meeting, we will be giving out a free bonus that may surprise (and please) you.
I pledge to continue efforts for transparency and two way member communications, updating our renewable pledge (last one was met in 2014) and our renewables where it makes long term economic sense, methods to reduce cost of regulation of intermittent renewables, Transco, continued efforts to keep rates low, helping reduce consumption, and work to help bring on natural gas and facilitate broadband to the extent it is cost effective.
I am open as always to member concerns. firstname.lastname@example.org 907-488-2001
Gary Newman elected June 2015
Thanks to our District 4 members, I’ve been elected to the board to represent GVEA members. 55% support. 671 votes to 561 votes, with 133 ballots discarded because they weren’t signed on the outside envelope (I’ll be working to change this).
I appreciate the spirited campaign and good wishes from my competitor Frank Eagle.
I’ll be ready and able to serve the members on Day One, which is June 22. If you have questions that GVEA can’t answer or problems/suggestions, my contact info is listed here.
Gary Newman – District 4 Candidate – GVEA Board of Directors
My name is Gary Newman and I’m running for the GVEA Board of Directors from District 4. This district includes east of the Steese Hwy, out to Fox to the end of GVEA’s boundary including all of the Elliot Highway, Chena Hot Springs Road, Island Homes, Shannon Park and much of the core of downtown Fairbanks east of Wien/10th/Smythe Streets. See the map page for more detail.
I have been a very involved member of our cooperative for many years, actually several decades. As a co-op, we are members AND owners, a very special thing. I have advocated for transparency of GVEA activities, especially for that of the board and met with considerable success. I have pushed for renewable energy and conservation programs and also met with some success. I have supported responsible investment in power generation with only moderate success.
We all want reliable electricity at affordable and reasonable rates. I’ve been concerned about GVEA taking on too many expensive projects, if nothing else because of the long term impact on rates to service the debt taken on. GVEA debt, formerly at $350 million until we members removed the debt ceiling from the bylaws in 2008, may be approaching $600 million when all the bills from the Healy 2 re-build come in. That will impact our rates for 30 years.
GVEA is more than just generating and distributing electricity. I have learned in my years of participation as a member-owner that it’s a complex business and the work of the board is quite demanding. I do now have the time that would be needed to devote to this and can step into the role without the steep learning curve that new board members have faced.
My professional expertise includes technical, regulatory and policy knowledge of electrical, computer and telecommunications issues, energy conservation and renewable energy, facilities management, and how to participate in and conduct meetings effectively. I have developed a robust knowledge of Alaska and national energy policies.
In my years of involvement as a member-owner, I have seen that GVEA employees are dedicated to provide service to us. While the job of a board member is not to run the company, it is important to insure the employees have the board’s support to meet the needs of the co-op.
I pledge to open up two way communications with District 4 members and, as a member of the board, to advocate to have GVEA expand their two-way communications to all the members for ways to help us save money, for outages and general communication.
Feel free to contact me:
1083 Esro Rd.
Fairbanks, AK 99712