Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Adak's power struggle

Deckboss simply doesn't have the energy tonight to recap the long and tumultuous history of Adak Fisheries, the little fish plant on faraway Adak Island in the Aleutians.

He can only report the latest drama surrounding the operation.

It seems a flurry of lawsuits have been filed against Adak Fisheries in recent weeks.

One suit involves the local electric utility, TDX Adak Generating, suing for unpaid power bills. More on this case in a minute.

Another case has Coastal Transportation Inc. suing for $56,520 in unpaid bills for shipping everything from boots and rain gear to pallets of salt. Court records show a default judgment already has been entered against Adak Fisheries for failure to answer the lawsuit.

Toyota Motor Credit Corp. and Daimler Chrysler Financial Services also have sued Adak Fisheries, but I wasn't able to get a look at those case files today.

The major suit seems to be the TDX action against Adak Fisheries and owners Kjetil Solberg, Matthew Tisher and Dave Fraser.

Evidently, the Adak Fisheries folks and TDX have been in a power struggle for some time over the processor's electric bills. The fish plant is among the largest power users on Adak, which until recent years was strictly a military outpost.

My read of the lawsuit is that TDX is aiming to collect potentially more than $1 million in unpaid bills and damages for "intentionally tampering" with an electric meter to show the plant used way less juice than it actually did.

The lawsuit includes an affidavit from Adak Police Chief James Northcott, who says he also has worked as an electrician for the city as well as TDX and Adak Fisheries.

Northcott's statement says Adak Fisheries employees including Fraser met with Adak's mayor and others at city hall toward the end of last year. They expressed concern about the size of the processor's electric bill and the accuracy of a meter Northcott had installed in the fish plant in 2007.

At the time of the city hall meeting, the city owned the local electric utility. TDX took it over in December 2008.

Northcott, in his statement, says city officials agreed to install a replacement meter.

"When the meter arrived in late November 2008, Dave Fraser intercepted the meter shipment at the Alaska Airlines freight office in Adak, took the new meter to the fish plant, and directed Adak Fisheries' electrician, Saldie, to install the new meter," Northcott's affidavit says. "All of this was done without my approval. I told Dave Fraser that he had no authority to make the change, and that I was the only one authorized by the City to change out meters. In fact, I got into an argument with Dave Fraser over the entire matter."

The TDX lawsuit contends the new meter was wired in such a way as to show only a third of actual electrical usage.

The suit also says that after some failed negotiations, TDX disconnected the fish processor's main commercial account on April 8.

Adak Fisheries and the owners haven't yet answered the TDX lawsuit, which was filed July 13 in Superior Court in Anchorage.

Of course, Deckboss would be pleased to report the other side of the story and invites Solberg and Fraser to respond to this post.


Alaska Dispatch said...

Nice piece, Deckboss!

Always love a good Adak story.

Linduh said...

Love to hear what Adak is up to these days. What a mess. Keep blogin' and I'll keep readin'.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I was thinking Linduh, "What a mess!" Thanks for the story Deckboss and I'll post a link to it from my NavstaAdak blog. http://navstaadak.blogspot.com