Managing the Details Within a Larger Framework.
By Rachel Kvapil
Like many people who grew up in Alaska, Daniel Heckman, GVEA’s Regulatory Manager, decided to explore life elsewhere for a while before returning. After splitting his college years between Texas and Washington, Daniel received encouraging words during his externship with Senator Lisa Murkowski’s office in Washington, D.C. that convinced him to return to Fairbanks. While working on Alaskan issues, he realized he still maintained a strong connection with the state.
“At one point, Senator Murkowski pulled me aside and said wherever you go, I hope you continue to find a way to serve Alaska.”
Daniel started his position as Regulatory Manager in February 2016 after working in regulatory affairs for Doyon, Limited. At the time, he was still attempting to nail down his exact career focus after completing his undergraduate studies at Southern Methodist University and law school at Gonzaga University.
“When I graduated in 2013, the supply of lawyers exceeded the demand,” says Daniel, “and I didn’t want to go into private practice since the courtroom is not exactly my cup of tea.”
Doyon introduced Daniel to the regulatory field, dealing with compliance, rate making and setting, along with legislative work. However, it wasn’t long until he heard from former GVEA CEO Cory Borgeson about GVEA’s Regulatory Manager position. Daniel had previously clerked for Borgeson in private practice, which led him to ask Daniel to join the GVEA team. Eventually, Daniel agreed to an interview.
Daniel now works for GVEA with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) on approved rules and rates known as a tariff. This 300-page tariff found on GVEA’s website covers everything from the nature of electricity provided, standards of service, rate schedules, alternative energies and disconnection of service to the Goodcents Program and more. It outlines expectations for the utility as they work with the membership through daily operations.
“I’ve been described as the maestro,” laughs Daniel. “But really, I make sure we are all on the same page in coordinating external council while maintaining a solid, productive, positive relationship with the RCA.”
Since starting this position nearly seven years ago, Daniel has seen his position evolve to include more legislative work, especially since the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed. He has become one of the leading representatives of the Railbelt Reliability Council and works with other utilities in the state to develop potential solutions to issues affecting the entire system.
“Over the past few years, we’ve all worked to break down the silos that once prevented the utilities from working together to achieve great things,” says Daniel. “We don’t always agree on everything, but we are on the same path and have the same mission now.”
Daniel says GVEA is always searching for new opportunities to stay reliable while generating electricity at a low cost. At times, he says the process appears slow, but he does see progress.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever fully overcome the challenges of electric generation,” says Daniel. “New situations and new technologies require constant adaptation, which means different challenges. That’s what I love most about regulatory affairs. Things never quietly go away. They will always come back for further refinement.”
Daniel says anyone considering work in the utility industry should remember they are providing a great service to their community. Whether that utility is in electrical generation, natural gas or water waste services, he says the public relies on quality service. There is great satisfaction in knowing that he is a piece in a larger puzzle, working together to accomplish GVEA’s mission.
Daniel was born and raised in Fairbanks. He attended K-12 at Monroe before leaving the state for college. Though he has a busy schedule, he makes time for family and friends, travel, exercise and watching sports.