Contact:  Heather Handyside

April 23,  2014

(907) 350-4846

Begich Announces $1.6 Million in Federal Funding to Repair Damaged Electrical Lines 

U.S Senator Mark Begich today announced over $1.6 million in federal funding to Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) for permanent restoration of damages to their electrical distribution system caused by severe storms in the Interior last Fall. Begich chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations, and the District of Columbia. The funding is being provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“These funds are welcome news for those who were without power and benefitted from GVEA’s work to restore service following the severe storms, damaging winds, and flooding last Fall,” said Begich.  “Restoration of power is critical after a disaster, and sustained power outages can often create a secondary disaster. I will continue to work with FEMA to assure the Agency recognizes the need for continued investment in activities throughout Alaska to secure essential resources.”

GVEA used in-house labor, equipment, material, and contractor labor to perform permanent repairs on damaged power lines. The repairs included electrical conductors and poles. Without reimbursement from FEMA for the work they did, the cost of these repairs would have been passed down to customers, likely through a rate hike. Early estimates after the devastating storms claimed around 15,000 households and businesses in the wider valley region served by GVEA had lost power. The power outages caused a run on generators and linemen worked around the clock to restore power ahead of rapidly dropping temperatures.

In November, Begich wrote to the President and worked with the Administration to ensure that Alaska received a Major Disaster declaration from FEMA so that projects such as this could be funded and recovery could begin. The President declared a Major Disaster on January 23rd and directed FEMA to work with the State of Alaska to provide funding to communities so repairs could begin.