I, Tony Knowles, Governor of the State of Alaska, make the following findings:
1. On July 30, 1998, I declared a disaster exists in certain communities and regions of Western Alaska, more fully described in the disaster declaration, due to the catastrophically low salmon returns jeopardizing the health and safety of individuals in the disaster area. Disaster relief to be provided will include vouchers or payments from the state or federal government on behalf of qualified individuals for certain essential needs including electric power costs.
2. Power cost equalization (PCE) customer eligibility standards are set out in 19 AAC 97.260. Under 19 AAC 97.260, customers of eligible electric utilities are required to make payments to the utilities for the electric power purchased. As noted, planned disaster relief includes payments to an eligible utility on behalf of qualified individuals. Therefore, individuals receiving assistance with electric power costs would not themselves be making payments to the utilities. Under 19 AAC 97.260 the individuals would not meet the standards for PCE eligibility for the time period for which disaster assistance is provided.
3. I find that compliance with 19 AAC 97.260 would substantially impede action necessary to cope with the disaster declared on July 30, 1998. Disaster relief is intended to assist qualified individuals with essential needs, including electricity. Disqualifying an individual from PCE during the period for which the individual receives disaster relief in the form of assistance with electric costs would increase the individual’s electric costs and decrease the effectiveness of the disaster relief. In addition, delivery of disaster relief under the declaration made on July 30, 1998, would be unduly complicated if it had to be tracked for effect on PCE eligibility. Also, there would be increased administration costs to the state agencies and the utilities involved.
Under the authority of art. III, sec. 1 of the Alaska Constitution and AS 26.23.020(g)(l), I, Tony Knowles, Governor of the State of Alaska, make the following order:
19 AAC 97.260 is suspended to the extent compliance would preclude qualified individuals in the disaster area from meeting customer eligibility standards for PCE solely because they are receiving disaster relief for electric power costs. This suspension is effective for utility billing periods for which disaster relief payments are provided under the disaster declared on July 30, 1998 to qualified individuals for electric power costs.
This Order takes effect immediately.
Dated at Juneau, Alaska, this 7 day of August, 1998.
By: S/S Tony Knowles