- RRC means Railbelt Reliability Council
- RCA means Regulatory Commission of Alaska
- MEA means Matanuska Electric Association
- HEA means Homer Electric Association
- GVEA means Golden Valley Electric Association
- CEA means Chugach Electric Association
- SES means Seward Electric Association
- ERO means Electric Reliability Organization
- NERC means North American Electric Reliability Corporation
- BES means bulk-electric system
What is the Railbelt region?
The interconnected Railbelt BES serves the geographic area of Alaska extending from the communities of Fairbanks and Delta Junction in the north; south to Homer and Seldovia; west to Tyonek; and east to Glacier View, Seward, and Whittier containing the service territories of GVEA, MEA, CEA, HEA, and the SES.
What is the Railbelt Reliability Council (RRC)?
- The RRC is a non-profit, ERO for the Railbelt region. Under state legislation passed in 2020, the RRC is classified as a regional ERO meant to develop reliability standards, transmission and interconnection standards, and integrated resource plans for the interconnected Railbelt BES.
- The RRC will ensure reliable electrical service and joint planning of new transmission and generation. The RRC will establish and enforce clear rules of operation for all entities connected to the Railbelt Network, increasing reliability for electric power consumers, and protecting the system against cyberattacks and other threats. The RRC will work to ensure that new large transmission and generation projects are contemplated in advance and coordinated through an integrated system-wide resource planning process with input from entities on the Railbelt Network and other interested stakeholders.
What is an ERO?
An ERO is a regulatory organization that develops and enforces electric reliability standards for electric infrastructure. While new to Alaska, EROs have been prevalent in the lower 48 for decades. The RRC is a unique ERO as it is required to develop transmission and interconnection standards and integrated resource plans for the interconnected Railbelt BES in addition to developing and enforcing reliability standards.
What is Electric Reliability?
According to NERC, electric reliability is defined as consisting of two aspects, Adequacy and Operating reliability:
- Adequacy: The ability to provide customers with electricity at the correct voltage and frequency consistently both in the short and long term.
- Operating Reliability: The electric power system’s ability to withstand sudden shocks to the system, including downed trees and cyber-attacks, with minimal disruption to customers or damage to the system.
Which entities are subject to RCA approved standards?
“Registered Entities” or user, owner, or operator entities that can impact the Railbelt BES will be registered with the RRC and will be subject to reliability, transmission, and interconnection standards approved by the RRC and the RCA. While a comprehensive list of Registered Entities has not been created, the Railbelt load-serving entities of GVEA, MEA, CEA, HEA, and the SES will be subject to reliability standards in addition to other entities to be determined.
Why is the RRC Needed?
- On April 29, 2020, Alaska Senate Bill 123, commonly referred to as SB 123, was signed into law; SB 123 required the creation of a Railbelt ERO. After submitting an application, the RRC was certified by the RCA as the Railbelt ERO on September 23, 2023.
- The RRC will enhance the reliability of the electric system that serves the majority of the Alaska population and will ensure adequate energy supply will exist at reasonable prices for the long term.
What is the RCA?
The RCA is a regulatory body that oversees gas and electric utilities in Alaska to ensure safety, adequate service, and reasonable rates. Many actions by regulated entities, such as rate changes by utilities, must be approved by the RCA to ensure that customers are treated fairly. RCA commissioners are appointed by the State of Alaska Legislature.
How does the RRC interface with the RCA?
The RRC files important documents such as proposed budgets, proposed reliability standards, and proposed Integrated Resource Plans with the RCA for approval. The RCA then holds a public process to ensure that the proposed actions are in the best interest of the public before approval. Full RCA-ERO regulations can be found here.
How is the RRC structured?
The RRC is governed by a fifteen-member Board of Directors (“Board”), which includes two ex-officio members. The Board is comprised of representatives from electric utilities, independent power producers, consumer and environmental advocates, state regulators, and an independent director. Multiple Board committees, including the Executive Committee, Governance Committee, and Finance and Audit Committee handle specific duties and have been delegated limited authority. The Board hires the CEO, who oversees administrative and technical staff and manages working groups to develop specific standards and plans.
What are the roles and seats on the RRC Board?
There are fifteen seats on the RRC Board, each of which has both a primary and alternate director. The seats are each designated for specific stakeholders as shown:
A – Provider, Integrated, Cooperative
B – Provider, Integrated, Cooperative
C – Provider, Integrated, Cooperative
D – Provider, Integrated, Cooperative
E – Provider, Distribution, Municipal
F – Provider, Distribution
G – Provider, State of Alaska
H – Provider, Independent Power Producer
I – Provider, Independent Power Producer
J – Consumer, Residential/Small Commercial
K – Consumer, Large Commercial/Industrial
L – Consumer, Environmental Advocacy
M – Independent
N – Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) (Non-Voting)
O – State Agency for Regulatory Affairs and Public Advocacy (RAPA) (Non-Voting)
How is the RRC Board Balanced?
The Board is balanced by having a mix of six customer-facing load-serving entities, three wholesale power producers including the State of Alaska, three consumer advocates including one environmental advocate, one independent seat, and two state regulatory seats. No one representative group has a voting majority.
How can the RRC benefit Railbelt ratepayers?
The RRC has the potential to reduce future electricity prices and bring more reliable service to Railbelt electricity consumers. It can save ratepayers money by improving reliability and thereby reducing emergency repairs and by creating system-wide plans for long-term energy sources which can reduce costs over the entire electric system. System-wide planning can lower costs by ensuring the lowest-cost electric generating resources are utilized as much as possible.
How is the RRC funded?
The RRC is funded by a surcharge paid by Railbelt load serving entities (LSEs), which include CEA, GVEA, HEA, MEA, and SES; per the RRC’s Equitable Allocation of Costs Rule, LSEs are allocated surcharge costs based on net energy for load. The RRC’s surcharge is subject to approval by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. 2024 Surcharge calculations and amounts can be found on page 46 and 47 of this link.
What is the budget for the RRC?
For 2024, the RRC proposed budget is $3,644,587. Detailed budgets can be found on this page.
Is the RRC a forever organization or does it sunset?
The RRC is currently making preparations for reliability standards and will continue to have ongoing work to monitor the compliance of standards, update standards, and develop Integrated Resource Plans for the foreseeable future. As such, the RRC will operate indefinitely after initial standards and an Integrated Resource Plan is approved by the RCA.
How can the public engage with the RRC?
There are several ways for the public to engage with the RRC:
- Ongoing Board and Committee meetings are public and can be joined by filling out the Meeting Attendance Registration Form on the Board and Committees page.
- The public may also engage through the Regulatory Commission of Alaska through its website on any open dockets related to the RRC
- The RRC is always accepting comments and input. The public is also encouraged to submit comments and input on RRC matters either through the website or by mail at P.O. Box 91359, Anchorage, AK 99509.
- Members of the public may petition the RRC become involved in the development of a Product as defined in RRC’s Public Participation in a Development Rule.
Where can I learn more?
- To learn more about the RCA:
- To learn about the history of electric reliability standards in North America
- North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) history
- To learn about other organizations that ensure resource adequacy:
- Read about the law necessitating the creation of the RRC:
- Learn the basics of electric reliability:
- Read about the creation of the RRC:
- Alaska Energy Transparency Project