Chugach Electric Association board members meet in December at the cooperative’s Anchorage headquarters. (Photo by Nathaniel Herz)
Antony Scott has three graduate degrees, including a doctorate in natural resource economics, and he once served on the commission that regulates Alaska utilities.
That wasn’t enough for the nominating committee of Anchorage’s member-owned electrical cooperative, which recently rejected Scott’s bid to run for Chugach Electric Association’s board of directors.
Scott now works as a policy analyst at Renewable Energy Alaska Project, and he’s been publicly critical of Chugach’s incumbent board and pushed them to adopt more transparent and green energy-friendly policies.
His rejection by the nominating committee came without any substantive explanation, he said. But in a phone interview this week, he guessed that it was because of his track record.
“I don’t think there’s any question that if I were elected on the board, I would be a pain in the ass,” Scott said. “But the interesting thing is, at the screening level, they’re trying to prevent members from having a choice in what kind of board they want.”
Scott’s candidacy was not the only one turned down by the nominating committee: Of 12 applicants, former state legislator Harry Crawford, another renewable energy advocate and a former Chugach board member, was also rejected, along with Scott Von Gemmingen, an auditor who works for the state.
The denied candidates can still run for the board by collecting signatures from 50 Chugach members — a step that Scott and Crawford both said they will take. But the questions about the nominating committee’s vetting process underscore an increasing interest in and politicization of Alaska’s electric utilities, which are facing an impending supply crunch of the natural gas they use to generate most of their power.
The nine candidates advanced by the committee — plus the potential for more to run by petition — represents double or even triple the number who have run for Chugach’s board in recent years.
The nominating committee is made up of seven people appointed by Chugach’s board of directors: Wynne Auld, Patti Bogan, Heidi Hansen, Ashley Johnson, Jessica Koloski, Leslie Ridle and Steve Strait. The utility’s bylaws give them no detailed criteria for vetting applicants — saying only that the committee should consider geographical representation.
Asked about the denials, a spokeswoman for Chugach, Julie Hasquet, said only that “after deliberations, the three applicants did not move forward with a majority vote of the seven-member committee.”
Crawford also said he does not know why he was declined by the nominating committee. But like Scott, he speculated that the decision was based on his desire to reduce Chugach’s dependence on natural gas.
“I’ve long been a supporter of alternative and renewable energy,” Crawford said. “And other people that were left out were also advocates for alternative and renewable energy. That’s the best guess that I can make.”
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