By Melinda Munson

The Skagway Borough Assembly unanimously agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Yukon Energy “in its shared goal of developing shore power at the Port of Skagway” on Nov. 18. A feasibility study, at a cost of $100,000 was also approved.

Yukon Energy, which has excess power in the summer, hopes to extend its infrastructure to the U.S. border, where Skagway would then take over, developing infrastructure on its side of the boundary, leading to an electrified port.

When addressing Resolution 21-27R, Mayor Andrew Cremata said Skagway would fall behind if it didn’t find a way to bring power to the cruise ships. 

“ (I) also want to point out that every cruise line that we spoke with at Sea Trade in Miami said that in the very near future, communities that have shore power are going to have priority over those that don’t. And as Alaska becomes more competitive in the cruise ship market, with more ports creating berths, we need to be sure that we have shore power, sometime preferably within the next five years. This is probably going to be a little bit late for that, but this is an essential thing that we are going to need moving forward if we want to have priority,” he said.

Manager Brad Ryan wanted to be clear that the initial feasibility study would be broad.

“So this would be a very high level feasibility study. I don’t want anybody to think that for $100,000 we’re going to get down into the details and look at transformers and nuances. This will be big picture…” he said.

Assemblymember Reba Hylton was part of the Skagway delegation that visited the Yukon in October. The trip included a meeting with Yukon Energy.

“…This is just the very beginning of what it’s going to take to pull this off. I mean, AP&T would have to be involved. But talking to Yukon Energy, it seems like a really positive thing because they already had this in the works going to the Moon Lake area. So for them to continue to run it to this area isn’t out of the picture. It was a very doable thing on their end, and this is the wave of the future,” she said.

Tom Cochran, Alaska Power and Telephone employee and shareholder had some advice for the assembly at the Dec. 2 meeting.

 “I think all that is great. And I’m not naysaying a bit. But I don’t see anywhere where AP&T has been brought to the table in any way, shape or form. And they are the utility here, they provide the power here and they own all the outside plant infrastructure. So unless you’re going to go on a loan or hire a contractor, you might want to bring them into the fold. I highly recommend it. And I think sooner is always better than later,” he said.