TBPA Commission places employees on leave

The Thomas Bay Power Authority (TBPA) Commission placed General Manager Michael Nicholls and Administrative Clerk Rhonda Christian on paid leave last Friday after a reported lack of communication from the TBPA office.

TBPA, the organization responsible for operation and maintenance of the Tyee Hydroelectric Plant that provides power to Petersburg and Wrangell, is undergoing negotiations to transfer its operations to Southeast Alaska Power Agency (SEAPA).

Commission members haven’t received financial information and haven’t approved a budget due to the lack of communication from the TBPA staff.

In an attempt to move the transfer forward, SEAPA CEO Trey Acteson has requested necessary documents from the TBPA office to no avail.

“Essentially I’ve had no support from the Thomas Bay Power Authority office for that,” Acteson said. “I’ve requested them (documents) in writing. It is included in the O&M (operations and maintenance) contract that we’re supposed to have access to those documents. I stopped by the office personally earlier this week and was told by the manager (Nicholls) that I’d have to have a court order to get those documents.”

Commission chair Robert Larson laughed upon hearing Acteson’s statement.

“That’s not going to be an issue, and whatever information you need we’re going to get for you almost instantly,” Larson said.

During its June 11 meeting, the commission directed Larson to communicate with Nicholls regarding his lack of communication. Larson said work had been done but the requested documents still weren’t being transferred to the commission. The commission was also not receiving communication from the TBPA Commission President James Stough. Stough resigned early last month.

“We’ve had quite a bit of discussion over this already,” commission member Clay Hammer said. “I don’t know that much further discussion is required.”

Some members began to discuss Nicholls’ termination before Petersburg Borough Clerk Kathy O’Rear advised them to schedule and notify Nicholls of the potential action against him in a separate meeting, in accordance with public meeting procedures.

The commission voted to place Nicholls and Christian on administrative leave until the July 9 meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. in the Petersburg Assembly Chambers where the commission will likely take final action.

Hammer was directed to inform the two employees and collect any relevant TBPA items, such as keys and agency credit cards, from them.


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