Hundreds in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta could have their power disconnected in the coming months. A letter from the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative warns residents that if they don’t repair their aging electric equipment soon, they won’t have electricity. And the customers have to foot the repair bill.
Most of the repairs mean installing ground rods or replacing a meter base. It can cost as little as $25 for a new ground rod, or as much as $500 for a new meter base. At least 450 Bethel residents have gotten these letters from AVEC. According to the utility, a “few hundred” more were sent out to most of the 58 communities the co-op serves.
AVEC CEO Meera Kohler says that the co-op is keeping a tally of customers who need to repair their electric equipment for safety reasons. AVEC is required to do this under the National Electrical Code, a federal standard. That standard outlines how electric wires and equipment must operate safely.
The news may come as a shock to those living in the region, since customers have to pay for the equipment upgrades. The co-op is only responsible for connecting the wires to the home or business. AVEC advises customers to contact an electrician for the repairs instead of doing it themselves. The utility does not have funds available to help subsize repairs for customers who can’t afford them on their own. It’s also unclear how people can get funding from other places.