The Metlakatla Indian Community (MIC) is located in southeastern Alaska on the Annette Islands Reserve and is the only Indian reserve in the State of Alaska. The MIC has been living on the island for more than 100 years and their economy has historically been tied to fishing, seafood processing and forest products.
Over the last decade, climate change has put a significant strain on natural resources, such as their mountain lake reservoirs. These reservoirs are the primary source of power for Metlakatla Power and Light Utility (MP&L), which is an isolated island utility off the grid. In addition, forestry regulations led MIC to experience a major loss of their logging industry leading to high unemployment rates. These challenges created financial strain on MP&L’s management, which had not properly adapted to these changes.
In 2019, the MP&L had “no money in the bank, no fuel in the tanks and no water in the lakes.” The MIC needed to find a way to replenish their resources, including their diesel fuel supply and hydro supply, and restructure the utility. The MIC sought Baker Tilly’s tribal energy consultants for development of a resilient and updated management plan.
Baker Tilly solution
Working closely with the MIC, Baker Tilly’s tribal services team members found a way to manage the immediate emergency and develop a management plan for the future.
Initially, the team sent accounting specialists to initiate financial controls to stop revenue loss and decrease spending. Next, Baker Tilly helped put together two grant applications to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The first would procure an infusion of cash to purchase diesel fuel and the second Department of Energy and Mineral Development (DEMD) grant, under a tribal economic capacity grant, would assist in the reorganization of the utility. Finally, the team institutionalized financial controls, reviewed and rewrote the policies and bylaws and designed new rate structures to build a stronger utility.