City to pay for power upgrades
The Baldwin City Council on Monday night unanimously approved spending nearly $60,000 for upgrades needed to receive power from the Oklahoma-based Grand River Dam Authority, with which it has a 10-year contract.
More than $38,000 will immediately be applied toward the construction of a $500,000 reactor in Tulsa, Okla. Another $21,000 will be paid over two years, starting in May, to improve a power line from Creswell, Kan., to Paris, Kan. Baldwin City is contributing to the expense with other Kansas Municipal Energy Agency cities, including Ottawa, that rely on power from the GRDA in Oklahoma.
"It will guarantee there will not be any cut-off in that power," said City Administrator Larry Paine.
Baldwin City contracted with GRDA about a year ago to receive 2 megawatts of power in winter months and 3 megawatts of power in summer months. However, the KMEA recently began experiencing problems securing firm transmission of the power.
A study by the Southwest Power Pool, which controls the flow of electricity in the region, showed that the GRDA power being received by KMEA cities was overloading a line in northwest Arkansas.
The Southwest Power Pool recommended improving a stretch of power line with a cost over $4 million. Baldwin City's share would be $400,000. KMEA filed an objection with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, claiming the remedy was oversized, because the line was tripped by only half a megawatt. The FERC agreed with KMEA and the Southwest Power Pool offered the alternative the city approved on Monday.
The $38,000 payment toward the reactor will be paid for from the city's electric utility fund. The city will start paying toward the $21,000 charge for line improvement beginning in May, with an $890 monthly surcharge.
Council member Gene Nelson said he didn't like the additional expense to maintain the GRDA power. However, he said the city needs the "cheap" power.
"You still can't beat the price," Nelson said of the price during the 10-year contract.
The city also needs the GRDA power to maintain its ability to support the peak load of the city. Between the city power plant, the GRDA power and power from the Board of Public Utilities, the city can do that which allows the city to purchase cheaper power from Kansas City Power & Light, and avoid paying open market prices.