We urge our Juneau readers to sign up for Thursday’s historical presentation, described below.  -dh

Juneau energy pioneers to speak to Chamber of Commerce

Bill Corbus. Northern Gas Pipelines File Photo by Dave Harbour

The Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon Thursday features representatives from one of the oldest establishments in Juneau, looking both at the past and to the future.

The program, entitled “Energy for Juneau for 124 Years & Counting,” features two prominent figures from Alaska Electric Light & Power, and will serve as the basis of Thursday’s weekly lunch. Alaska Electric Light & Power President and General Manager Timothy McLeod headlines the program, with Director of Energy Services Alec Mesdag also featured. They will unveil a presentation and lead a discussion, which is set to take place at noon Thursday at The Hangar on The Wharf Ballroom.

Alaska Electric Light & Power is proud of its long history in Juneau, as the company began in 1893 and is the oldest regulated electric utility in Alaska, according to its website. McLeod has been the company’s president since 2002, when he took over for Bill Corbus, whose family had owned the company since 1896. The company was eventually acquired in 2014 by Avista Corp., based in Spokane, Washington.

Mesdag has specialized in helping Juneau residents save money and conserve energy, being particularly vocal about the use of electric cars and providing education about other energy-saving techniques.

The event requires an RSVP, with doors opening at 11:30 a.m. and the program starting at noon. Members pay $20 while non-members pay $25. One can RSVP on the Juneau Chamber of Commerce website. Seating is limited.

Across Alaska interest will focus throughout this year, and especially next month, on the sesquicentennial of the purchase of the territory from Russia in 1867.

ADN Commentary by Steve Haycox

University of Alaska Professor Steve Haycox. Northern Gas Pipelines Stock Photo by Dave Harbour.

Anniversaries provide an opportunity for reflection on the people and events that produced the world we live in today. Such reflection can generate insights into the complicated nature of history and remembering.

Nuances get lost when, for the sake of convenience, we latch onto shorthand explanations, which serve as mere indicators of complex events. The Alaska purchase is a prime example.

The purchase was negotiated and signed in March 1867, ratified by the U.S. Senate in April, signed by Czar Alexander II in May, signed copies formally exchanged in June, and the territory formally conveyed at Sitka in October.  Appropriation of the funds would wait until the following summer.

A simple text, the deal Secretary of State William Seward and Russian Foreign Minister Eduard Stoeckl negotiated to finality on the night of March 30 was said to be so unpopular, newspaper editors and pundits could not find enough phrases of ridicule to express their disapproval: Seward’s Folly, Walrussia, Icebergia.

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