About Our Cooperative
To be the best Alaskan utility.
- Honesty and integrity will govern our activities.
- All individuals will be treated with dignity and respect.
- Commitments made will be fulfilled.
Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AVEC) is a non-profit electric utility serving residents in 59 locations throughout rural Alaska. AVEC is owned by those it serves.
Who We Serve
AVEC began providing electric service to rural Alaska in 1968. The residents of Nulato, Hooper Bay and Old Harbor were among the first to become members.
AVEC covers the largest area of any retail electric cooperative in the world. We serve 59 communities stretching from Kivalina in the north to Old Harbor on Kodiak Island in the south, and from Gambell on St. Lawrence Island in the west to Minto in the east. Yakutat, in southeast Alaska, is more than 1,000 air miles from Gambell. Minto is the only AVEC community accessible by road. All other communities are only accessible by airplane or marine vessel.
The members of AVEC are from diverse cultures including Athabascan, Aleut, Inupiat, Yupik, Siberian Yupik, Tlingit, and Caucasian. Although the majority of the members have command of two languages, there are still many who speak only in their native dialect.
The means of survival for the members of the cooperative are equally distinct: whaling, fishing (from nets to fish wheels), hunting, trapping, subsistence, and private enterprise. All of these cultural, social, and economic factors combine to create village life.
How We Operate
Because of the many rural locations extending throughout western Alaska, each of AVEC’s 59 communities conducts an annual community meeting for the express purpose of electing delegates to represent their community at the Annual Cooperative Meeting held in Anchorage each April. At the Annual Meeting, the delegates conduct AVEC business and learn the results of the Board of Directors election that is conducted by a membership mail-in ballot process.
AVEC and most local governments operate as a partnership. Under operating agreements with member communities, local control is exercised. The village governments hire the plant operators and oversee the day-to-day operation of the power generation and distribution systems.
Due to active permafrost that breaks buried cables, the majority of AVEC’s distribution systems are overhead, which ensures reliable, year-round service.
AVEC has more power plants than all other electric cooperatives in the State of Alaska combined. More than 160 diesel generators run a cumulative total of over 450,000 hours a year. That is equal to nearly 1,000 trips by diesel truck around the world each year, nearly 25,000,000 road miles. AVEC orders more than eight million gallons of fuel annually, which is stored in bulk fuel tank farm facilities, many of which have been upgraded or completely rebuilt with money received primarily through the Denali Commission. AVEC is also continually upgrading and increasing the efficiency of our power plant facilities and distribution lines.
AVEC started out with loans from the Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture. In addition to borrowing from the RUS, AVEC finances its construction through a fellow cooperative — the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation. AVEC became a Denali Commission partner in 2001 and has received substantial funding grants from the Denali Commission, the Rural Utilities Service, Department of Energy, the State of Alaska and other organizations.
Benefits Through Electricity
Although expensive, at an average cost of 50¢ per kWh, the introduction of stable electricity has brought about many changes to rural Alaska, including better health care, improved housing, schools, and water and sewer systems to over 75% of the rural communities. Other benefits include improved communications and increased economic opportunities through development of new or improved businesses. For rural Alaska, the very basics of modern life have become reality!
As technology progresses, AVEC actively works with the State of Alaska and other agencies to explore alternative energy sources. Thirty-three wind turbines are installed in twenty-two communities.