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Utility sale to Avista means $40 million windfall for Alaska charity

Fri., Nov. 8, 2013

JUNEAU, Alaska – The longtime owner of a Juneau power company plans to donate about $40 million to a community foundation there, part of the proceeds from the sale of the company to Spokane’s Avista Corp.

Bill Corbus’ family has owned Alaska Electric Light and Power Co. since 1896, and Corbus was president of the utility from 1987 to 2002, when he retired.

He also has served on the board of the Juneau Community Foundation and supported its efforts.

Avista Corp. said earlier this week it will buy the utility’s parent, privately owned Alaska Energy and Resources Co., for $170 million, minus debt and other adjustments. The sale is subject to regulatory approval, and company officials said they expected it to close by July.

Corbus plans to donate 90 percent of his shares, or about $40 million, to the foundation after the sale is complete, the Juneau Empire reported.

The foundation’s executive director, Amy Skilbred, said the donation would be a “game changer” for her organization, which supports charitable groups in southeast Alaska with donations and grants. The foundation currently has two part-time staffers and has given just over $1 million to local organizations since 2005.

“All I could think about was, ‘This is extraordinary,’ ” Skilbred said of reading about Corbus’ plans. “It’s been a whirlwind of a day and an extraordinary gift to the Juneau community.”

Corbus said he thought the proceeds from the sale of the company should stay in the community. And he said he knows what the foundation is all about. “I think that they are established to further the philanthropic interest of Juneau, so it seemed like a good organization to do business with,” he said.

According to the foundation, it will come to terms with Corbus on how the donation will be used once the sale of the utility is complete.

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