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11/20/2019
Input sought on garbage collection industry

ANCHORAGE (AP) — The Regulatory Commission of Alaska is considering changes to rules governing the state's trash companies, officials said.

The commission opened a public comment period on questions related to garbage collection, with comments due by Dec. 5, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.

The request for input followed a 2018 complaint filed against Alaska Waste by competing trash service BlueArctic. The complaint said Alaska Waste, the state's largest garbage company, unfairly lowered rates for prospective BlueArctic customers while leaving rates untouched for others.

Regulators found the complaint groundless.

"However, our investigation did pique our interest in the current status of the deregulated commercial refuse industry and the utility practices therein," the commission wrote, starting a process that resulted in the request for public input.

BlueArctic General Manager Jason McDonald declined to comment about the complaint but said a "stable, partially regulated market" would be best.

"The regulatory commission's job, their only job, is to protect the consumer, and that's all I want them to do," he said.

Some Alaska trash companies said deregulation could make it easier for new companies to open, creating competition that could drive down garbage rates. Others said deregulation could increase the risk of predatory action by larger companies, reducing competition.

Alaska Waste Vice President Mark Gingrich said it is unclear whether the commission will deregulate the industry, and if so, what steps will be taken.

Smaller companies are exempt from most of the detailed regulations.

Lloyd Moore operates a small trash-collection service in Homer and the southern Kenai Peninsula.

"For the consumer, (it's) always good to have competition. I think that's the way we should have it, an open market," Moore said. "If they can do it cheaper than me, for less money, then more power to them."