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Rural Utility Business Advisor (RUBA) Program

Business Planning for Rural Alaska Utilities

As a part of addressing sustainability of projects in rural Alaska, capital funding and constructing agencies require communities to complete a business plan for projects that are being built. Whether it is a water system, wastewater system, bulk fuel farm or power plant, the need for a solid business plan to achieve sustainability is apparent.

This need prompted each individual agency to create a business plan model that suited their particular agencies needs. The different formats of these plans often required the same information be presented in a different format, order or manner. If a community received project funding from two different agencies, they would be required to do two different business plans in differing formats.

In addition to possibly having to complete two separate plans, there were no provisions in the plan to address how each project may affect the other. This has lead to a confusing system that ultimately does not benefit the community in developing a plan that will lay the framework for sustainable infrastructure.

At the urging of rural policy groups, the Department of Community and Economic Development's (Commerce) Rural Utility Business Advisor (RUBA) program, sought and received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a template model that would streamline community business plans for each of the agencies involved in rural Alaska capital projects.

The Business Planning for Rural Alaska Utilities guidebook and template allow a community to develop its own business plan in an easy-to-follow and logical format that will also satisfy each funding agency's requirements for a project business plan. The plan is not meant to be a "one size fits all" approach because the various infrastructure projects have unique needs. The template is intended to be flexible and allow for easy expansion and contraction to accommodate the needs of the agencies while not overly burdening the community. Ultimately, the business plan is a valuable tool for the community to use -- not just another agency hoop to jump through.

For more information about the RUBA program, contact:

John Nickels

Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1640
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-4564 FAX: (907) 269-4563