By: Margie Brown, CIRI president and CEO
CIRI held its 38th Annual Meeting of Shareholders on June 4 in Anchorage’s Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center and shareholders elected five candidates to serve on its 15-member Board of Directors. I congratulate returning directors Penny L. Carty, Roy M. Huhndorf, Katrina M. Jacuk and Patrick M. Marrs for their re-election. I also welcome and congratulate first-time director Robert E. Harris.
I thank outgoing director B. Agnes Brown, on behalf of CIRI shareholders and the Board, for her nearly four decades of dedicated Board service. Ms. Brown, to whom I am not related, was elected to the Board in 1974 when CIRI was only two years old. She served on the Company’s special land committee that negotiated the Cook Inlet Land Exchange agreement in the mid-1970s, an agreement that proved instrumental in allowing CIRI to achieve early success. Ms. Brown also held many other Board committee assignments during her tenure and served as an officer, including secretary, for many of those years.
Our Company holds its annual meetings to enable shareholders to elect Board members to oversee CIRI business. CIRI rotates its shareholder meeting locations between Anchorage, Kenai and Washington state to enable greater shareholder participation in elections. It also enables shareholders who cannot attend an annual meeting in person to participate in the election process by giving their proxies to authorize a person – a proxyholder – at the meeting to vote the shareholders’ interests.
Repeating my remarks from the Annual Meeting, thank you to shareholders who participated in this year’s election either by attending the meeting in person or by giving their proxies to others. Taking the time and making the effort to evaluate candidates and then elect capable and well-qualified Board members is an important duty that is needed to ensure CIRI’s long-term growth and prosperity. I also thank all of the Board candidates for running respectful campaigns that stimulated important conversations about CIRI’s future and how our Company should be managed.
CIRI’s Board and staff are now moving ahead with a variety of exciting projects that promise to help grow our Company. As described elsewhere in this newsletter, the Board held a special meeting on June 20 and approved a power purchase agreement with Chugach Electric Association that is expected to enable CIRI to construct the first phase of its Fire Island wind project and start generating power before the end of 2012. The success of this project is very important to CIRI because it is our Company’s first effort to develop and operate an independent power project. It is also vital to Southcentral Alaska because it will improve power reliability and price stability by diversifying the region’s power supply and decreasing dependence on dwindling known Cook Inlet gas reserves.
Our Company is also making significant progress on other business fronts. Our underground coal gasification project with Laurus Energy Inc. will soon start its design and permitting phase. We anticipate that this project will produce syngas from otherwise unrecoverable, deeply buried underground coal on CIRI lands on the west side of Cook Inlet. CIRI executives are evaluating options for marketing syngas from the project and are working closely with the Board to determine the best way to proceed. This project offers incredible opportunities for CIRI because it is at the forefront of a new domestic energy industry that promises to reduce Alaska’s and the nation’s dependence on imported energy.
CIRI is also proceeding with several real estate projects and investments. The Tikahtnu Commons shopping and entertainment center in northeast Anchorage continues to build out. CIRI is partnered with Browman Development Co. in the Tikahtnu Commons project. The Firetap Alehouse Restaurant began construction in spring 2011 and is expected to open later this year. Several other new stores and restaurants, including Olive Garden and McDonalds, are anticipated to begin construction at the center later this year. CIRI recently completed a deal to purchase and manage a sixth class-A multifamily housing complex in Arizona with Dean Weidner and Weidner Apartments. CIRI continues to pursue similar deals for additional high-value, multifamily properties in distressed markets.
These are just a few of the projects our Board and staff are working on this year. I am confident that CIRI’s prudent strategy of investing in a diverse portfolio of projects and acquisitions today will increase its value to shareholders over the middle and long term. I look forward to reporting on CIRI’s accomplishments in the coming year.